Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam 2023

Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam 2023

News: Recently, The Lok Sabha passed the Women’s Reservation Bill (Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam 2023) with more than a two-thirds majority. The Rajya Sabha has also passed the bill.

Background:
• It was introduced as The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023.

Key Provisions:
• The Bill reserves one-third of all seats for women in Lok Sabha, state legislative assemblies, and the Legislative Assembly of the NCT of Delhi. The reservation will also extend to the seats reserved for SCs and STs in Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies.
• The implementation of reservation begins after the completion of the delimitation process based on the first census conducted after the Bill’s passage.
• The reservation will be provided for a period of 15 years. However, it shall continue till such date as determined by a law made by Parliament.
• Seat rotation for reserved seats occurs following each subsequent delimitation.

Status of women representation in India:
• According to Global Gender Gap Report 2023, India has registered 25.3% parity on political empowerment, with women representing 15.1% of parliamentarians, the highest for the country since 2006.
• India has achieved representation of women of over 40% in local governance, which is among the highest in the world.

Historical background of Women’s reservation:
• During the national movement – There was a longstanding demand for political reservation of women. In 1931, three women’s bodies sent a letter to the British Prime Minister requesting a political reservation for women.
• Government of India Act, 1935 – The act gave women separate electorates but did not reserve seats for them in the legislature. It was a step towards political participation for women.
• Constituent Assembly- The issue of women reservation also came up in Constituent Assembly debates. However, it was rejected on the grounds that a democracy is expected to give representation to all groups.
• The Committee of the Status of Women in India 1971 and The National Perspective Plan for Women in 1988– They recommended reservation of women in the local bodies. These recommendations paved the way for the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution which mandate all State governments to reserve one-third of the seats for women in the local bodies.

What are the arguments in favor of the bill?
• Increase in the political representation of women - According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) ‘Women in Parliament’ Report (2021), India ranks lower than 140 other nations in terms of the number of women serving in their national legislatures.
• Empirical evidence shows that women legislators have been associated with improved economic outcomes and infrastructure development.
• Reservation of seats for women can help to reduce the criminalization of politics. The current Lok Sabha includes 159 MPs with serious criminal charges, including rape, murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, and crimes against women.
• Breaking patriarchal mould of Indian politics. It also promotes gender equality.
• It will help address crime against women in society.
• Shift from “women as homemaker” to “women as lawmaker”.
• Women in India vote at par with men but their representation is very low as compared to men. Reserved seats will bring some parity between the vote share of women and their representation in the parliament/assemblies.

What can be done?
• Increase representation of women within political parties. Intra-party democracy is the need of the hour.
• Promote women’s participation at the grassroots level to groom potential candidates for higher offices. SHG’s can be looked at.
• Encourage girls’ participation in student politics and political debates at colleges and universities.

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