Women?s reservation Bill

Women’s reservation Bill

News: Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader K Kavitha began a day-long hunger strike in New Delhi, demanding passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill (WRB).

Why does India need a Women reservation Bill?
 As per data compiled by the InterParliamentary Union (IPU), in India, women make up 14.44 per cent of the Lok Sabha.
 A glance at the data in the latest available report of the Election Commission of India (ECI), shows that women represent 10.5 per cent of all Members of Parliament as of October 2021.
 According to Global Gender Gap Report 2021, India has declined on the political empowerment index by 13.5 percentage points, and a decline in the number of women ministers, from 23.1% in 2019 to 9.1% in 2021 (way short of the international average of nearly 22%)
 According to several reports, development in India is being severely hampered by the widening of the gender gap and limited female participation in traditionally male dominated institutions and social strata.

Key Provisions of Women’s reservation bill:
 To reserve 33% seats in Lok Sabha and all state legislative assemblies for women.
 Reserved seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in the state or union territory.
 Reservation of seats for women shall cease to exist 15 years after the commencement of this Amendment Act.

What are arguments in favor of the Bill?
 It is important for women to participate in politics which will help them fight the abuse, discrimination, and inequality they have experienced.
 A woman in power is more likely to holistically understand the issues faced by another women and act accordingly.
 Woman will better ensure progress against human development indicators.
 Political participation of all sections of society is essential for building a functioning, representative democracy.
 It is intrinsic to eliminate gender discrimination and strengthening women’s empowerment as enshrined by equality of rights and freedoms in the Preamble and Constitution of India.
 Reservation for women in panchayats has shown impressive results where elected women leaders in panchayats have invested more in public goods closely linked to women’s concerns and it has helped further increase percentage of female local leaders contesting and winning elections.

What are arguments against the bill?
 It is likely that reservation would only help women of elitist group to gain political power thereby further aggravating misery of poor and lesser privileged.
 The reservation would inadvertently perpetuate the unequal status of women as they would not be elected on merit.
 It will promote a “proxy culture” where elected women will actually not have real power and will act on behalf of male decision maker.
 Rotation of reserved constituencies may reduce the incentive for an MP to work.
 It diverts attention from the larger issues of electoral reform such as criminalisation of politics and inner party democracy.
 Restricts choice of voters to women candidates.

Is there any other option to truly empower women?
 An alternative to women’s reservation is the idea of ensuring reservation within political parties. Countries like Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, and Norway etc., reserve seats for women within the political parties, but do not have quotas for women in Parliament.
 Similarly, another alternative is introducing dual-member constituencies, which means constituencies, instead of reserving seats for women, will nominate two members, one being a woman.

Way Forward
 Until consensus is reached on the Women’s Reservation Bill alternate methods such as reservation in political parties, and increasing women voters’ turnout should be focused. 

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