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Women’s Reservation Bill: India envisions to be a new egalitarian society. The Women’s Reservation Bill introduced 25 years ago seeking amendments to the Constitution of India to ensure 33% reserved women in Parliament was finally approved. The Union Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved a constitutional amendment bill that provides reservations for women in parliament and state legislatures, paving the way for the historic bill to be introduced in the current special session of parliament.

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Here is a brief information about the Women’s Reservation Act and the journey since its introduction in 1996.

Draft law on reservation for women


The bill was first introduced in Parliament on 2 September 1996 by the United Front government led by HD Deve Gowda.

The objective of the bill on women’s reservation

The Women’s Reservation Bill seeks to amend the Constitution of India to achieve 33% reservation for women in Parliament and state assemblies.

Reservation on a rotating basis

The seats will be reserved on a rotational basis, meaning that the seats will be reserved only once in every three consecutive General Elections in the country. The reservation of seats for women ceases to exist 15 years after the entry into force of this Law on Amendments.

Idea for Bill on Women’s Reservation

The idea for the bill came from a constitutional amendment that took place in 1993. It stated that one-third of the post of sarpanch (or council leader) in the gram panchayat should be reserved for women.

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Significance of the Women’s Reservation Act

Political empowerment of women is based on three fundamental principles. These are the following:

1- Equality between the two sexes– male and female.

2- The right to self-representation and self-determination.

3- The right to full development of one’s potential.

Criticism of the Draft Bill on Women’s Reservations

RJD and SP, along with other political parties, opposed the bill on women’s reservations on several grounds.

Opponents of the bill argue that if passed, it will perpetuate unequal status among women because there will be a lack of merit.

They further argued that the bill limits voter choice to female candidates and distracts from larger election issues such as the criminalization of politics and intra-party democracy.

Women’s Reservation Bill: The Way So Far

The bill, which was introduced in 1996, was proposed again in 1998, 1999 and 2008, but has not passed even after 25 years. On two occasions, copies of the Bill were looted and torn in the House.

It was sent to a standing committee for review and was reintroduced and passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2010. The bill, however, lapsed in the 15th Lok Sabha.

Present status of draft Women’s Reservation Bill

The Bill is currently pending in the Lok Sabha. It will be passed only if the ruling government supports the bill in the Lok Sabha as it has a majority in the lower house of parliament.

India’s position on women in parliament

Globally, India ranks 145th out of 193 countries, below China (86th) and Pakistan (114th), at a time when the number of women parliamentarians in the country is at an all-time high of over 14%. The list published every month by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is based on the percentage of women in national parliaments.

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Do you know?

There are 78 women MPs in the Lok Sabha, which is the most in the history of the House of Representatives. The first Lok Sabha had 24 members.

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Categories: Trends
Source: HIS Education

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