Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Private Member’s Bill for women’s reservation


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Private members bill, reservation seats for women

Mains level: Women representation in legislatures



  • As strong advocates of more representation of women in politics, looking at the number of women elected in the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assemblies has been saddening. With just 14.9 per cent women elected to our Lok Sabha, India ranks 144 out of 193 countries in the representation of women in parliament according to Inter-Parliamentary Union’s latest report. Among our immediate neighbours, India falls behind Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nepal.

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Background: Recent elections and women’s participation

  • Gujrat: Gujarat elected just 8 per cent of women legislators in its 182-member assembly.
  • Himachal Pradesh: Himachal Pradesh, where every second voter is a female, has elected 67 men and only one woman.
  • National Average: The national average of women in all state assemblies remains around 8 per cent. The figure is grim
  • Representation of women in local governments increased: After the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments, the representation of women in local governments increased from a mere 3-4 per cent to nearly 50 per cent now.


History of Women’s Reservation Bill

  • First introduced in 1996 but lapsed with the dissolution of Lok Sabha: The Women’s Reservation Bill was first introduced in 1996 by the Deve Gowda government. After the Bill failed to get approval in Lok Sabha, it was referred to a Joint Parliamentary Committee chaired by Geeta Mukherjee, which presented its report in December 1996. However, the Bill lapsed with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha and had to be reintroduced.
  • Bill reintroduced in 1998 but failed and lapsed: PM Vajpayee’s NDA government reintroduced the Bill in the 12th Lok Sabha in 1998. Yet again, it failed to get support and lapsed. In 1999, the NDA government reintroduced it in the 13th Lok Sabha.
  • One-third reservations for women: Subsequently, the Bill was introduced twice in Parliament in 2003. In 2004, the government included it in the Common Minimum Programme that said that the government will take the lead to introduce legislation for one-third reservations for women in Vidhan Sabhas and in the Lok Sabha.
  • The bill introduced and passed in Rajya Sabha: In 2008, the government tabled the Bill in the Rajya Sabha so that it does not lapse again. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice recommended the passage of the Bill in December 2009. It was cleared by the Union Cabinet in February 2010. On March 9, 2010, the Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha with 186-1 votes after immense debate. History was created.
  • Lapsed again in 2014: The Bill, then, reached the Lok Sabha where it never saw the light of day. When the House was dissolved in 2014, it lapsed. Now we are back to square one.
  • Renewed push: In the current Winter Session of Parliament, there is a renewed push from most Opposition parties to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill.


The case study: Political parties and Women representation

  • Political parties that reserved seats for women for election candidature: So far only two regional political parties in India, Odisha’s Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and West Bengal’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) have reserved seats for women for election candidatures.
  • Candidature and results of 2019 general elections: TMC and BJD fielded 40 per cent and 33 per cent women candidates respectively. Interestingly, 65 per cent of the TMC’s women candidates won in comparison to 44 per cent of their men, whereas 86 per cent of the BJD’s women candidates won in comparison to 43 per cent of their men.

Private Member’s Bill for women’s reservation in all legislative bodies

  • Acknowledging the inequality and barriers: Women have historically suffered due to systemic inequality and barriers. Without a gender quota, women’s representation will continue to remain marginal causing a massive deficit in our democracy.
  • Reserved seats for women: Understanding this reality, there is a need to introduce a Private Member’s Bill demanding women’s reservation in all legislative bodies Lower and Upper Houses, and also reserved seats within that for women who come from historically marginalised communities.
  • Ensuring greater representation: It is a single step that will, if passed, immediately ensure at least 33 per cent representation of women.

What is Private Member’s Bill?

  • Piloted by member other than minister: A private member’s Bill is different from a government Bill and is piloted by Member of Parliament (MP) who is not a minister. A Member of Parliament who is not a minister is a private member.
  • To draw governments attention: Individual MPs may introduce private member’s Bill to draw the government’s attention to what they might see as issues requiring legislative intervention.


Way ahead

  • The case for women’s reservation emanates from their lack of representation in legislative bodies. We cannot rely on incremental changes.
  • We cannot let another generation fight for what is fundamental to participating in a democracy the right to be heard and make decisions.
  • Women’s reservation will jump-start the democratic process. It will allow a significant majority to have a say in how their lives must be governed.
  • Over the years, though, women’s vote share has increased significantly, but the number of women in positions of power has not.


  • Victor Hugo famously said, “No force on earth can stop an idea whose time has come”. Women’s reservation in legislatures is one idea which has been discussed, debated, and agreed upon by most political parties. It is now time to take it to fruition. With its massive women population, India has a huge reservoir of potential which, if unleashed, will take the country much ahead.

Main Question

Q. Women reservation bill has introduced and lapsed no of times. In this context discuss why it is necessary to have reserved seats for women in all legislative bodies?

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