Reservation of seats for women in Parliament by Avlin at Lexcliq

Women constitute nearly half of the entire Indian population. But the condition of women in India is miserable, due to illiteracy, poverty, and backward social values. Keeping in view the prevalent circumstances, reservation for the women was started to emancipate the women from the drudgery of the household. A debate has been going on to ensure women’s reservation at every level of the representative system of Indian Democracy and even in the state administrative services.

Under the Panchayati Raj system, women’s seats have been reserved at both the Panchayat level, and the block & district levels. Some political parties are also debating the issue of giving at least 30% tickets to women candidates for contesting elections of state legislative assembly and also for the parliamentary elections but the women’s reservation bill is still pending in the parliament. Women’s reservation is centering on various issues like equality, justice, citizenship, etc. But the effectiveness of women’s reservation depends on the socio-political order of a country. However, it is widely known that women’s higher representation is prevalent in Scandinavian countries in Europe. The feminist debates on gendered citizenship in Scandinavian one strongly influences by a specific social democratic model of citizenship. The citizenship question of Scandinavia is based on socio-political inclusion and exclusion which emerged within the framework of social movements. In other words, social movements are considered central agents of historical changes.

Women, who were long considered to be the “weak sex”, in recent times, have made far-reaching achievements in almost all walks of life. However, India, despite having had a woman prime minister, chief minister, and president, does not show any remarkable progress in the political and social empowerment of women. The idea of women empowerment seems to have lost the vigour it had enjoyed during the time of the freedom movement when Mahatma Gandhi mobilized as many women as men during the freedom struggle. Nowadays, there is a need for special political interventions for the inclusion of equal representation of women in Indian politics as even the prominent female political representatives are feeling marginalised within their respective parties. Many women politicians in electoral and party politics are an ineffective minority within their political parties while the male politicians dominate the functioning of the political party. Therefore, political interventions like the Women’s Reservation Bill are a need of the hour to address the social shackles that are suppressing the equal representation of women in Indian society.

The Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, 2008 aims to reserve one-third of all seats for women in Lok Sabha and the State Legislative Assemblies. The distribution of such seats shall be fixed by such authority as prescribed by the parliament. The reserved seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in the state or union territory. The reservation of seats for women shall be terminated 15 years after the start of this Amendment Act.

The foregoing analysis reveals that gender quota increases women’s representation. Quota has been used as a tool for incorporating women’s inclusion in decision-making bodies. But it is depending on the socio-political context of a country. There is a commonness regarding „quota‟ that for and against arguments that quota is still surprisingly similar from country to country. However, the Indian context has demonstrated that the „quota‟ for women’s reservation includes more women in local self-governing bodies but at the same time they are excluded by the male-dominated political power structure.  Even elected women representatives are still silent spectators in the socio-political order. It is noteworthy that women’s reservation failed to remove some essential barriers like the local electoral campaign financing, the many imbalances between family life and politics, difficulties in attending meetings, etc. Positively speaking, women’s reservations have the potential to kick-start other processes of empowerment of women. In other words, women’s political representation can be considered a precondition for women’s empowerment. It is also believed that more women’s access will enhance the quality of politics.

 

 

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