India entered in the new age of democracy by taking the most important initiative to pass the `Women’s Reservation Bill’ in the Rajya Sabha on 9th March 2010. Before India many countries of this world have already taken necessary steps for fixing a quota of seats for the women candidates in their legislature. On 9 March 2010 the Central Government has brought a Bill in the Rajya Sabha to amend the Constitution to reserve 1/3rd of seats in Parliament and State Legislatures for women.
Though the bill was passed in Rajya Sabha on 2010, the Lok Sabha has not yet voted for the bill.
Through the bill was passed at the Upper House of the Parliament by 191 votes for the Bill and 1 vote against the Bill, there were many controversies arose as regards the Amendment Bill in the Rajya Sabha. The process of passing the Bill itself started on a stormy way.
Rajya Sabha suspended MPs for their unconstitutional behaviour in the House on March 8, 2010. Not only that, both Houses witnessed repeated adjournments on March 9, 2010 as members opposed to the Women’s Reservation Bill Continued to disturb proceedings.
The question here may arise that what is the requirement of the Women’s Reservation Bill? And then the answer is the women want reservation in legislative bodies not because they are weak and tend to lose elections, but they can win if only given a chance. Women can outperform men on the electoral battle field.
Though generally it seems that the Women’s Reservation Bill is a concession to women, in reality men will have it better. That is why women elected under quota will have to move constantly whereas men can have two continuous terms. To be sure, a woman elected by reservation in the first election can regain the seat in the next election through the general category. Women choosing to contest from the general category can have two terms many live male candidates.
But it is undoubted that history has made on 9th March 2010 with the passage of Women’s Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha. The basic character of our politics and by expanding the way in which our public domain is ordered will never be the same. With the Upper House adopting a legislation making space for a minimum of 33% women representatives which is a milestone that has been elected in the realm of women’s empowerment in Independent India.
The cause of Women’s Reservation Bill is nothing but empowerment hinges on political representation and economic development. The great experience of reserving seats for women in panchayats over the last 15 years illustrates the importance of having more women in governing positions. The Women Reservation Bill is intended to enhances the status of women, and therefore of society as a whole.
Category: National Issues of IndiaTagged With: Women In India
Fourteen years later, the Rajya Sabha has finally relented and the bill has been passed by what The Times of India has aptly termed “the first legislative hurdle”.
The Women’s Reservation Bill was drawn up in order to include more female legislators in a domain which has historically been a male bastion. Politicians supporting the bill believe that women have been inadequately represented thus far, and link this inadequacy to the perpetuation of women’s problems. Others think of it as an “undemocratic” move.
Brinda Karat, a leading politician from The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has claimed that more women participating in the affairs of Parliament will lead to a more sensitive politics and perhaps to sensitive legislation. She also claims that women are caught in a culture trap and this piece of legislation might prove to be emancipatory.
After the constitution amendment bill had been put to vote by Chairman Hamid Ansari, Karat stated,
“the bill will change (the country’s political) culture because women today are still caught in a culture prison. In the name of tradition, stereotypes are imposed and we have to fight them every day. These stereotypes will also be broken (by the bill).” Source for Quote: IANS via Deccan Herald
While I do subscribe to Karat’s view on the matter of a more “sensitive politics”, the root cause of the insensitivity will not, in my opinion, be solved by this legislation. It will grant adequate representation at the highest level, but the bill will also allow for political parties to field undeserving candidates.
Many politically unfit leaders seep in to the system thanks to reservations. In light of the previous statement, do we really need another reservation? I would say that in the present situation, we do.
Reservation policies in India are often used in politics, such as when members of Parliament use reservation policies in order to leverage their popularity and gain votes. Given that unethical practices like corruption and bribery are rampant in India during election campaigns, will the reservation of seats for women change these pre-existing practices?
I don’t think so.
Since the problem of gender disparity appears to be at the root of this bill, the education provided at the grassroots level needs to lay special emphasis on gender discrimination.
These gender issues pose an important question that may only be answered over time – will the bill serve the purposes of the politicians or will it stand to benefit the women in India who are still subjugated and unable to express a voice that is truly their own?
Gender roles are definitely changing. Check out JoAnna Haugen’s article about Marjan Kahlor, the first woman from Iran to compete in the Olympics this past winter in Vancouver. Or Julie Schwietert-Collazo’s article about how women are redefining politics in the Middle East.