The women's reservation Bill is set to turn into an Act, ending a long wait for female leaders
After a long 33 years when it was first tabled in Parliament, the women's reservation Bill is finally likely to secure passage. After Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Cabinet accorded it approval late on Monday, the decks are virtually clear for its approval in the special session of Parliament. The Bill has been tabled by the Union law minister Arjun Ram Meghwal. The women's reservation Bill provides for 33 per cent quota for the fair gender in the Lok Sabha and all State Assemblies. The Prime Minister had informed the House that while more than 7,500 public representatives have served in both Houses, the number of female representatives is a negligible 600 or so. The representation of women in the Indian political system has been abysmally low, and the reservation of seats sets to correct that anomaly. This crucial and overdue legislation seeks to counter the longstanding issue of underrepresentation of women in legislative bodies and encourage their active participation in shaping up the nation with their assistance of vision and strong voice. The central pillar of this Bill revolves around the reservation of 33 per cent of seats in both the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies for female candidates. This reservation will apply to constituencies across the spectrum, including general, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe.
To ensure diversity in the representation of women from various backgrounds, the Bill introduces a rotational system. Under this system, the reserved seats for women will change with each electoral cycle, facilitating broader representation with the passage of time. Within the overarching 33 per cent reservation, sub-reservations will be carved out for women belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. This provision seeks to address the complex issues of gender and caste-based discrimination simultaneously. This legislation is not a run-of-the-mill piece of law but rather a constitutional amendment. Consequently, it necessitates a special majority in both Houses of Parliament (a two-thirds majority of members present and voting) and ratification by at least 50 per cent of State legislatures before it can be enacted as law. Parties will be required to provide equal opportunities to women when distributing tickets, thus mitigating biases in the selection process. With enhanced presence of women in legislature bodies, the women's reservation Bill is poised to exert a profound influence on the Government's policy decisions. This may result in the formulation of more inclusive and gender-sensitive laws and policies by empowering women in political leadership roles. When enacted, this Bill has the potential to usher in a more inclusive and representative democracy. So, finally after twenty-seven years wait and 13 years after being passed by the Rajya Sabha, the Women Reservation Bill would become the law. However, the law would be implemented by 2029 Lok Sabha elections and would not affect the 2024 elections. It is indeed a big accomplishment for the Modi government for which it deserves all the praise.