Despite the achievements made in every sector, women still face challenges in finding space in the political landscape.
75 years after Independence, Parliament lacks substantial representation from half the population, with women holding just 14% of the seats.
It is time to acknowledge the systematic exclusion of women from politics and demand action to create a more equitable political landscape.
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What is Women’s Reservation Bill?
The Women’s Reservation Bill proposes to reserve 33% of seats in the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies for women.
Reserved seats may be allocated by rotation to different constituencies in the states or union territories. Reservation shall cease to exist 15 years after the commencement of this Amendment Act. It was first introduced in the Lok Sabha as the 81st Amendment Bill in September 1996.
The House did not approve the Bill and referred it to a joint parliamentary committee.
The committee submitted its report to the Lok Sabha in December 1996. However, with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha, the Bill lapsed.
In 1998, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) 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.
In 2008, the United Progressive Alliance government led by Manmohan Singh tabled the Bill in the Rajya Sabha, and it passed with 186-1 votes on March 9, 2010.
However, the Lok Sabha never took up the Bill for consideration, and it lapsed with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha.
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Three fundamental and non-negotiable principles form the basis of women’s political empowerment.
The equality between female and male. Women’s right to a full development of their potential. Women’s right to self representation and self-determination.
There is a gender gap in political decision-making, and women leaders need to come out more in numbers to impact position decisions and inspire teenage girls to contribute to nation-building.
Moreover, critics argue that implementing such a policy would perpetuate the unequal status of women and that the complexity of its implementation is a concern. This is because they would be attributed with the perception of not competing on merit.
Furthermore, some contend that this policy is diverting attention from the larger issues of electoral reform, such as the criminalization of politics and the lack of inner-party democracy. It limits the choice of voters to women candidates.
Rotation of reserved constituencies in every election may reduce the incentive for an MP to work for his constituency as he may be ineligible to seek re-election from that constituency.
In addition, some experts have suggested the adoption or promotion of alternative methods. These methods include reservation in political parties and the establishment of dual member constituencies.
According to Babasaheb Ambedkar’s opinion, one can measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress achieved by women. However, it is clear that we still have a long way to go before reaching this benchmark.
The Women’s reservation bill cannot wait any longer,The Women’s reservation bill cannot wait any longer