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16 March 2023: Women’s Reservation Bill

Why in News?

Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader K. Kavitha launched a hunger strike for the early passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill.

Historical Perspective-

  • The issue of reservation for women in politics can be traced back to the 1930s, even the Constituent Assembly rejected the debates on women’s reservation as unconstitutional.
  • Later Committee of the Status of Women in India, 1971 commented on the decline of political representation of women.
  • The National Perspective Plan for Women in 1988 recommended that reservations be provided to women from the local level to higher levels i.e, from panchayat to parliament.
  • Later 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Act 1992 mandated the reservation of one- third seats at different levels

Data-

  • Only around 14 per cent of the members of the Indian parliament are women, this proportion is lower than in neighbouring countries like- Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka etc.

About Women’s Reservation Bill-  

  • Bill proposes to reserve 33 per cent of the House of People and State Legislative Assemblies for women.
  • Earlier it was introduced as the 81st Constitutional Amendment Bill 1996 but didn’t get passed due to the dissolution of Lok Sabha.
  • Later in 1998 NDA government reintroduced the Bill but failed to pass it.
  • In 2008 the UPA government, Bill was passed in Rajya Sabha but not in Lok sabha.

Favouring Arguments-

  1. It is affirmative action to better the condition of women because political parties are inherently patriarchal.
  2. Women are under-represented in the legislature so by providing reservation the proportion of women will increase.
  3. If there is a sufficient proportion of women parliamentarians then more such issues would have been discussed which are often ignored.
  4. Women’s participation in decision-making may decrease the percentage of crime against women, increase the participation of women in the workforce, increase the nutrition level etc

Arguments against the Bill-

  1. Some people think that women will not be competing on merit if there is a reservation, which could lower their status in society.
  2. Women’s interests can’t be isolated from other social, economic and political strata.
  3. Some think that the reservation of seats for women would restrict the choice of voters to women candidates.
  4. Some people argued that bringing women into politics could destroy the ideal family.

 

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