Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Women’s Reservation Bill: A Long Road Ahead


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Women's Reservation Bill

Mains level: Read the attached story

women's reservation bill

Central Idea

  • The Indian government introduced The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023, aimed at providing 33% reservation to women in the Lok Sabha and state Legislative Assemblies.
  • However, this endeavor is not new, dating back to the mid-1990s.

Women’s Reservation Bill: Overview

  • Reservation Provisions: The Bill proposes to reserve one-third of the seats in the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies for women, including those belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  • Constitutional Amendments: Similar to a previous Bill from 2010, this one introduces new articles (330A and 332A) in the Constitution to effect these changes.
  • Sunset Clause: The Bill includes a sunset clause, stipulating that the reservation will be applicable for 15 years from the Act’s commencement.

Discourse on Women’s Reservation

  • Pre-Independence Demands: The discussion on women’s reservation dates back to the pre-Independence era, where various women’s organizations advocated for women’s political representation.
  • Recommendations: Several recommendations and reports, such as the 1955 committee’s proposal for 10% reservation in Lok Sabha and State legislative assemblies, set the stage.
  • National Perspective Plan: The National Perspective Plan for Women in 1988 called for 30% reservation in all elected bodies.
  • Panchayati Raj Act (1993): A significant step was the amendment of the Panchayati Raj Act in 1993, reserving 33% of seats in local government bodies for women.
  • Rajya Sabha Approval (2010): The Women’s Reservation Bill, introduced in 1996, finally gained momentum and was approved by the Rajya Sabha on March 9, 2010.

Practical obstacles in Implementation

(a) Delimitation Process Dependency:

  • Crucial Condition: The Bill links the implementation of women’s reservation to the delimitation process, which could significantly delay its enactment.
  • Impact of Census: Delimitation would occur after the publication of Census results, with the 2021 Census delay potentially affecting the timeline. Assuming the Census results are published after 2026, this could serve as the basis for delimitation of constituencies.
  • Operational Timeline: Given the current circumstances, women’s reservation might not be effective in the Lok Sabha until the general elections of 2029.

(b) Seat Identification Uncertainty:

  • Lack of Specifics: The Bill does not specify how the reserved seats will be identified, leaving this crucial aspect to be addressed by a separate law. Past proposals suggested rotation and a draw of lots method to determine reserved seats, but the government’s exact approach remains unclear.

(c) Current Seat Reservation Process

  • SCs and STs: The Delimitation Act, 2002, lays down principles for reserving seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes based on population distribution.

(d) Constitutional Amendments Required:

  • Amendment Necessity: To operationalize the women’s reservation scheme, amendments to Articles 82 and 170(3) of the Constitution are essential.
  • Impact on Panchayati Raj: While reservation for women exists in Panchayati Raj institutions, it operates under Article 243D and has achieved significant representation in several states. According to government data as of September 8, 2021, in at least 18 states, the percentage of women elected representatives in Panchayati Raj institutions was more than 50%.

Challenges to Female Representation

  • Party Ticket Allocation: Despite pledges in party constitutions, records show that women candidates receive disproportionately fewer party tickets, often relying on family political connections.
  • Perceived Electability: The belief that women candidates are less likely to win elections hampers their ticket allocation.
  • Structural Barriers: Demanding and time-consuming election campaigns, coupled with family responsibilities, deter many women from active participation.
  • Vulnerability: Women politicians face humiliation, abuse, and threats, making participation even more challenging.
  • Financial Constraints: High campaign costs, limited financial independence, and lack of party support create hurdles for women candidates.
  • Internalized Patriarchy: Many women prioritize family and household duties over political ambitions due to ingrained patriarchal norms.

Significance of Women’s Participation in Lawmaking

  • Political Empowerment: Legislative representation empowers women to participate in lawmaking and hold the government accountable.
  • Gender Parity Indicator: Women’s presence in national parliaments reflects gender equality progress in politics.
  • Unique Skills: Women bring diverse skills to politics, serve as role models, and advocate for gender justice.
  • Advocating Women’s Interests: Female politicians represent women’s interests in state policies, bridging the gap between representation and participation.
  • Efficiency and Integrity: Studies show that women legislators excel economically, exhibit lower criminality and corruption rates, and are more effective and less susceptible to political opportunism.

Need for such Reservation

  • Ensuring Representation: Reservation guarantees women’s presence in decision-making bodies, addressing underrepresentation.
  • Encouraging Entry: Reservation encourages women to enter politics, contest elections, and engage in the political process.
  • Capacity Building: Participation in legislative processes enhances women’s political capacity, nurturing effective leaders.
  • Changing Perceptions: Reservation shifts societal attitudes toward women in politics, challenging stereotypes and promoting participation.
  • Promoting Gender-Sensitive Policies: Women politicians advocate for gender-sensitive policies addressing issues like violence against women and discrimination.


  • Pressing Need: The Women’s Reservation Bill is long overdue, with women waiting for their rightful place in governance and nation-building.
  • Untapped Potential: Women’s leadership qualities are undeniable, and their participation is essential for India’s progress.
  • Call for Action: As India aspires to be a global leader, it must prioritize women’s political empowerment and pass the Women’s Reservation Bill without further delay.

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