Right To Equal Representation Of Women in Parliament

Why equal representation of women in politics required

It pays to empower women as it makes positive impact on the survival of communities and children in particular and eliminates gender discrimination.

How has other nations achieved equal representation

Many nations have recognized that women deserve equal representation at all levels of the decision making processes of administration and there is a need for efficient catalysts to ensure gender balance in legislatures. To secure dramatic increase in representation of women, nations have introduced the mechanism of quotas.

In the last 15 years 50 countries have introduced legal quotas ensuring at least stipulated minimum representation of women in highest decision making bodies. Examples of  women representation a in countries are – Rwada 48%, Sweden 47.3%, Norway 37.7%, Pakistan 21.3%, China 20.3%, UK 19.8%  but India has  a mere 8.1% representation  with no specified quota

Why India needs Reservation

India is going through a crisis:

  • The sex ratio has gone down steadily from 972 in 2001 to 933 per 1,000 males now. 
  • Crimes against women like female foeticide and bride burning are rampant.
  • Dowry banned by law in 1961 continues to be routinely enforced;
  • The right to property, made a law in 1955, is still observed more by default.
  • Sati, banned in 1829, is  being “committed” in some places even now. 
  • Terrorism and civic strife is rampant and affects women the most
  • Violent physically and sexually assaults expose them to a hostile social environment.
  • Illiteracy is still high among women more so among the rural women restricting their right to take full advantage of new economic opportunities. 
  • Health and malnutrition are significant drawback making them also silent sufferers of diseases like AIDS.

Why Reservation for women

  • Gender equality which is the base of social justice and development is a far cay in this country. For a correlation between gender gap and national competitiveness women’s participation in critical areas of development is must
  • Women   who constitute 50% of the Indian population are represented by mere 8% in Parliament. It is a shocking contrast with the entire notion of democracy. 
  • Women as citizens of the nation have a right to half the seats in Parliament and State legislatures giving them access to influence decisions that affect the nation, politically, economically, socially.
  • Women  are not asking for grace and charity As 50% of adult population and third of official work force, they perform nearly two third of their life working They receive a tenth of world income and own less than one percent of world property Therefore reservation is not a bounty but honest  recognition of their contribution to social development.

Advantages of granting Reservation

The amendment in Article in 73rd and 74th in 1992 have empowered women and made them active and valuable participants in grass root level decision making structures. A strategy for equal representation if employed across all levels of higher decisions would strengthen dynamic involvement and leadership of women. 

Increase in participation of women in Panchayat level has helped increase the availability and usage of resources for human development. West Bengal villages which have adopted the reservation policy are doubly developed with basic facilities like water and roads.  

Empowerment of women is not only for the good of women but for whole society. It is essential to bring about social justice and development.

  • Representation of women in State and Parliament assemblies would check the muddy politics that is existence in our country, bringing social consciousness to political life.
  • It would help in addressing  the problem of the criminal- politician nexus, the real danger to our democracy .
  • Women are more particular, paying attention to detail and long term planning and would be able to address problems and issues such as price rise, financial debts, through effective legal means.
  • They would be more scrupulous in framing laws and taking positive decisions in Parliament or State assemblies.
  • Their presence would help build capacities of marginalized women to participate in State and National electoral politics thereby catalyzing democracy and minimizing the gender deficit in politics.

The history of the women’s reservation bill

1996
1996
The Deve Gowda government introduces the women’s reservation bill as 81st Constitutional Amendment Bill.
1998
1998
The bill is re-introduced in the 12th Lok Sabha as the 84th Constitutional Amendment Bill by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government headed Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
1999
1999

The NDA government re-introduces the bill in the 13th Lok Sabha.

2002
2002

The bill is introduced in Parliament but fails to sail through.

2003
2003

Bill introduced twice in parliament.

2004
2004

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government includes it in the Common Minimum Programme.

2008
2008

The government tables the bill in the Rajya Sabha so that the legislation does not lapse.

2010
2010

The cabinet clears the bill for taking it up in the Rajya Sabha.

The idea of making a legal provision for reserving seats for women in the Parliament and State Assemblies came into being during Rajeev Gandhi’s tenure as the Prime Minister of India when the Panchayati Raj Act, 1992 (73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment) came into effect granting not less then 33% reservation to women in the Panchayati Raj Institutions or local bodies. Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda made the actual promise for reservation of seats for women in Parliament and State Assemblies in 1996. I.K. Gujral proposed the present form and shape of the Bill during his term as the Prime Minister of India.

The Bill in its Current form envisages reserving 181 seats in the Parliament for women. In practical terms its efforts would be that 181 male members of Parliament would not be able to contest elections if the Bill is passed. Also, there is to be a rotation of seats, i.e., a male member of Parliament can not represent the same constituency for more then two consecutive terms. Here lies the rub.

These two very provisions are seemingly the cause of the consensus arrived at by various political parties to dump the Bill.

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