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Women Reservation And Representation In Politics

The passage of Women’s Reservation Bill is nothing short of historic. While the arrival of the bill must be celebrated, the question is if a reservation is enough.

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After 27 years of deliberation, in a special session of Parliament in September, politicians across regions and backgrounds united for the passage of the Constitution (One Hundred Twenty-Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023. The bill granting 33 per cent reservation to women in Lok Sabha and state assemblies was an important step for Indian politics to ensure that more women participate in political and administrative roles. 

The passage of Women Reservation Bill is nothing short of historic. Despite the number of women candidates in political parties increasing in the last two decades, they continue to be grossly underrepresented. While the arrival of the bill must be celebrated, the question is if a reservation is enough.

After being stalled in Parliament for nearly three decades, the women’s reservation bill was cleared in both houses with overwhelming support. Opposition parties, too, favoured the Bill, although there were apprehensions about the clause of Census and delimitation exercise for the quota to come into effect. In this context, it is also imperative to mention that another important debate surrounding the bill was the quota within the quota for representation of women from marginalised communities.

One of the biggest contentions surrounding the women’s reservation bill is that even if it becomes a law today, it is unlikely to be implemented in the next two national election cycles, that is, the time needed for census and delimitation exercise. Then does the law hold any meaning today or is it mere tokenism in the name of Nari Shakti ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha polls?

The upcoming magazine issue of Outlook will be dedicated to women – their rights, representation in politics and their role in the Indian democracy.

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