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Women’s Reservation Bill 2023, Need, Provisions and Latest Update

Women Reservation Bill: Even 75 years after the independence, Parliament lacks substantial representation from half the population, with just 14% of seats held by women, highlighting the importance of passing the “Women’s Reservation Bill” to harness women’s key role in nation building. “I measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress which women have achieved.” — Dr BR Ambedkar.

Women Reservation Bill in India

The Constitution (One Hundred and Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2008—officially known as the Women’s Reservation Bill—has been given the green light by the Union Cabinet. This crucial piece of law seeks to provide women a 33 percent representation in both the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies. The measure was the main topic of discussion on the first day of the extraordinary parliamentary session.

Women’s Reservation Bill 2023 Latest Update

The Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam (Women’s Reservation Bill) was passed in the Rajya Sabha with 215 MPs voting in favour of the Bill.

Following extensive discussion among MPs from all parties, the Rajya Sabha approved the historic Bill that would reserve one-third of the seats in the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies for women. With 215 votes in favour and none against, the Bill was approved by a majority vote of the House.

The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Amendment) law, 2023, was discussed in detail by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who concluded the discussion by saying, “This law would lead to a new confidence in the people of the country. Additionally, it demonstrates the optimistic outlook of all political parties, which will revitalise the movement for women’s emancipation.”

Women's Reservation Bill 2023, Need, Provisions, Highlights_4.1

The women’s reservation bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday a day early, opening the way for the historic law. There were 454 votes in favour and two votes against it from the AIMIM.

After a day-long debate, the historic Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam, also known as the Women’s Reservation Bill, was approved by the Lok Sabha with 454 votes, with only two MPs voting against it. The Women Reservation Bill is still being debated and discussed by Rajya Sabha members.

  • Different constituencies in the state or union territory may receive reserved seats through a rotational allocation process.
  • After 15 years from the start of this Amendment Act, the seats reserved for women will no longer be available.
  • A Joint Parliamentary Committee was consulted after the bill’s initial introduction in 1996. The Lok Sabha’s dissolution caused it to expire, necessitating its reintroduction. It was repeatedly introduced and experienced setbacks in 1998 and 1999.
  • In 2010, the bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha and lapsed in the Lok Sabha. Since then, it has been pending and reservations for women in Parliament are yet to be implemented.
  • Percentage of Seats: The proposed bill suggests that 33% of the seats in both the Lok Sabha (the lower house of Parliament) and state legislative assemblies would be reserved specifically for women. This means that one-third of the total seats in these legislative bodies would be set aside for female candidates.

Need for the Women’s Reservation Bill in India

  •  Underrepresentation of women: Currently, just 14 per cent of Lok Sabha MPs are women (78 in total). And women make up roughly 11 per cent of the Rajya Sabha.
  • Global comparison: Although the number of women MPs has increased significantly since the first Lok Sabha, it still remains much lower in comparison to several other countries. According to data from PRS, Rwanda (61 per cent), South Africa (43 per cent) and even Bangladesh (21 per cent), are ahead of India in this matter. India ranks 144 out of 193 countries in the representation of women in Parliament, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s latest report.
  • Need to bridge the gender gap: According to various international reports, development in India is being severely hampered by the breadth of the gender gap and limited female participation in traditionally male-dominated institutions and social strata
  • Gender sensitization in law-making: As a study by the American Economic Association showed, “countries with a higher share of women in national parliament are more likely to pass and implement gender-sensitive laws.”
  • Positive impacts: A 2010 study by the Harvard Kennedy School showed that female representation in village councils increased female participation and responsiveness to concerns such as drinking water, infrastructure, sanitation and roads.

Global Examples Related to Women’s Reservation

  • Around the world, women leaders are outperforming their male counterparts.
  • The Scandinavian countries have implemented policies and governance structures that support gender equality and women’s empowerment, which includes women’s representation in political and leadership positions.
  • Norway implemented a quota system in 2003 that required 40% of seats on corporate boards to be occupied by women.
  • Moreover, countries led by women have shown to have some of the best policies and governance practices.
  • The deep scars in Rwanda, a central African nation, from the genocide, are being healed by predominantly a leadership that comprises women; this has also resulted in key social reforms.

Provisions for Women’s Political Empowerment in Indian Constitution

  • Article 15 (3): The State is empowered to make “special provisions”, legislative or otherwise, to secure women’s socio-political advancement.
  • Article 325: Guarantees equal rights for both sexes, and entitles women to enjoy economic, social, cultural, and political rights on an equal footing with men.

Women’s Reservation Bill [The Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, 2008]: Background

  • Origination of women’s reservation in India:
    • The discourse on women’s reservation in India can be traced back to 1955 when a government-appointed committee recommended that 10% of seats in the Lok Sabha and State legislative assemblies should be reserved for women.
    • However, it was not until the 1980s that the demand for women’s reservations gained momentum.
    • The National Perspective Plan for Women (1988) recommended that 30% of seats in all elected bodies should be reserved for women.
  • The Journey of Women’s Reservation Bill: The Women’s Reservation Bill (Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, 2010) has witnessed a troubled journey in Parliament and has been opposed on many grounds.
Journey of Women’s Reservation Bill:
Journey of Women’s Reservation Bill:
  • Key provisions of the Women’s Reservation Bill:
Key provisions of the Women's Reservation Bill
Key provisions of the Women’s Reservation Bill

Women’s Reservation Bill History with Timeline

Year Events
  • The issue of reservation for women in politics can be traced back to the Indian national movement.
  • In 1931, leaders Begum Shah Nawaz and Sarojini Naidu wrote a letter to the British PM regarding the status of women in the new Constitution.
  • According to them, seeking any form of preferential treatment would violate the integrity of the universal demand of Indian women for absolute equality of political status.
  • The issue of women’s reservation was rejected as being unnecessary in the Constituent Assembly debates.
  • It was assumed that a democracy would accord representation to all groups.
  • In 1947, noted freedom fighter Renuka Ray said, “We always held that when the men who have fought and struggled for their country’s freedom came to power, the rights and liberties of women too would be guaranteed.”
  • The Committee on the Status of Women in India (1971), commented on the declining political representation of women in India.
  • A majority within the Committee continued to be against reservation for women in legislative bodies but all of them supported reservation for women in local bodies.
  • Slowly, many State Governments began announcing reservations for women in local bodies.
  • The National Perspective Plan for Women recommended in 1988 that reservation be provided to women’s rights from the level of the panchayat to that of Parliament.
1992 The enactment of the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Indian Constitution mandated:

  •  All State Governments to reserve one-third of the seats for women in Panchayati Raj Institutions and
  • One-third of the offices of the chairperson at all levels of the Panchayati Raj Institutions, and in urban local bodies, respectively.
  • Of these seats, one-third are reserved for Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe women.
  • Many States such as Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Kerala have made legal provisions to ensure 50% reservation for women in local bodies.
  • The Women’s Reservation Bill proposes to reserve 33% of seats in the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies for women.
  • It was first introduced in the Lok Sabha as the 81st Amendment Bill in September 1996 by the then Government.
    • The Bill failed to get the approval of the House and was referred to a joint parliamentary committee which submitted its report to the Lok Sabha in December 1996.
    • But the Bill lapsed with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha.
  • In 1998, the then Government reintroduced the Bill in the 12th Lok Sabha. The Bill failed to get support and lapsed again.
  • The Bill was reintroduced in 1999, 2002 and 2003. Even though there was support for it, the Bill failed to receive majority votes.
  • In 2008, the then Government tabled the Bill in the Rajya Sabha and it was passed with 186-1 votes on March 9, 2010.
  • However, the Bill was never taken up for consideration in the Lok Sabha and lapsed with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha.

Arguments in Favour of and Against the Women’s Reservation Bill

Arguments supporting the bill Arguments against the bill
  • Women’s active political participation is crucial in their fight against the abuse, discrimination, and inequality they face, and in promoting gender equality.
  • Sustainable progress towards human development indicators relies heavily on women’s political participation.
  • A representative and functional democracy requires political participation from all segments of society.
  • Women’s political participation can inspire them to work towards creating a more equal and better society, leading to inclusive national development.
  • Eliminating gender discrimination and empowering women, as outlined in the Preamble and Constitution of India, is integral to promoting equality of rights and freedoms.
  • It would perpetuate the unequal status of women since they would not be perceived to be competing on merit.
  • Reservation may benefit only privileged women, worsening the situation for marginalized and underprivileged groups.
  • The rotation of reserved constituencies in each election could reduce the incentive of an MP to work for their constituency, as they may become ineligible to seek re-election from that same constituency.
  • Reservation may lead to a “proxy culture” or a situation where elected women lack real power and act on behalf of male decision-makers.
  • Reserving legislative positions for women may result in qualified men losing out on those positions.


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Women's Reservation Bill 2023 FAQs

What is the note on the women's reservation bill?

The Women's Reservation Bill was first introduced in the Lok Sabha in 1996 as the 81st Amendment Bill. The bill provided 33% reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and the legislative assemblies. The bill was referred to a Joint Parliamentary Committee but the bill lapsed after the Lok Sabha was dissolved.

What is womens reservation bill 2023?

The, Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023, seeks to introduce three new articles and one new clause in the Constitution. A bill to provide reservation for women in Parliament and assemblies were first introduced in the Lok Sabha in 1996 by the Deve Gowda-led United Front government.

What is the 108 Amendment Bill?

The Constitution (One Hundred and Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2008 seeks to reserve one-third of all seats for women in the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies. The allocation of reserved seats shall be determined by such authority as prescribed by Parliament.

What is the latest update on Women's Reservation Bill?

Women's Reservation Bill has been passed from Lok Sabha with 454 votes in favour of the bill.

What is the current status of Women Reservation Bill?

At present Women Reservation Bill is passed from both the houses, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha with full majority.

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