After decades of deliberation, the Women’s Reservation Bill has finally been passed in both Houses of Parliament, marking a historic milestone for gender equality in Indian politics. This significant legislation, referred to as the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam, recently gained overwhelming support in the Lok Sabha, receiving 454 votes in favor, with only 2 lawmakers opposing it. The bill comfortably secured the two-thirds majority required for a constitutional amendment.
When this bill becomes law, it will usher in a new era of women’s participation in politics by providing one-third reservation for women in the lower house of Parliament and state assemblies, including Delhi. The government presented the bill in the Lok Sabha on 19th September, just a day after it was approved by the Union Cabinet.
Empowering Women in Indian Politics
The passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill is a monumental step forward in empowering women in Indian politics. For far too long, women have been underrepresented in legislative bodies across the country. This bill seeks to rectify this imbalance by reserving one-third of seats for women in both the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.
The significance of this legislation cannot be overstated. Women make up nearly half of India’s population, and their voices and perspectives are essential in shaping the nation’s policies and governance. By ensuring greater female representation in Parliament and state assemblies, the Women’s Reservation Bill recognizes the invaluable contributions that women can make to the development and progress of the nation.
Historic moment! The passage of the Women's Reservation Bill in the Lok Sabha is a giant leap towards gender equality in India. Let's celebrate this step towards empowering our women and creating a more inclusive democracy. मोदी है तो मुमकिन है। pic.twitter.com/FMS2fXzWOJ
The journey towards passing the Women’s Reservation Bill has been a long and arduous one. Successive governments have attempted to push this legislation through, but it often faced roadblocks and resistance from various quarters. The lack of consensus among political parties was a major stumbling block that prevented the bill from becoming law for many years.
The bill had previously made its way through the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Parliament, in 2010. However, it hit a roadblock when it reached the Lok Sabha, the lower house, and was not taken up for discussion or voting. This unfortunate delay meant that the bill lapsed, leaving the aspiration of women’s reservation in political seats unfulfilled.
However, it’s important to note that the Women’s Reservation Bill will come into effect only after the delimitation exercise. This means that the 2024 Lok Sabha elections will not feature reserved seats for women. The bill stipulates that it will be implemented based on the latest census figures, and since the delimitation process had been paused until 2026, the bill can only take effect after 2017. Therefore, it is likely that the 2029 Lok Sabha elections will witness the allocation of 33% of seats to women.
Once the bill becomes an Act, it will remain in force for 15 years, with the possibility of extension. According to Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, the number of women in the lower house will increase from the current 82 to 181 after the law is implemented.
This achievement is a long-awaited victory, as numerous governments in the past attempted to pass the bill but were hindered by the lack of consensus among political parties. The bill had previously been passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2010, but it lapsed as it was not taken up by the Lok Sabha.
Interestingly, the only two lawmakers who voted against the bill belonged to the All-India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) party, led by Asaduddin Owaisi. This irony was further highlighted when, just the previous year, Owaisi expressed his desire to see a hijabi woman occupy the Prime Minister’s chair. Yet, the AIMIM voted against a bill that aims to empower women in politics. Quite an ironic turn of events, to say the least!
The passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill in both Houses of Parliament is a momentous achievement for gender equality in Indian politics. It represents a significant step toward a more inclusive and representative democracy. While the bill’s implementation may take time, it is a beacon of hope for the millions of women who aspire to participate in the nation’s governance. The Women’s Reservation Bill is a testament to the tireless efforts of women’s rights activists, lawmakers, and citizens who have advocated for greater female representation in politics. It is a victory for all those who believe in the power of women to shape a brighter future for India.
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