Historic moment for Women empowerment: Know all about Women Reservation Bill 2023

"A historic legislative proposal is set to redefine the gender dynamics of Indian politics - the Women’s Reservation Bill, a landmark in the making."

Current Status

After twenty-seven years since the inception of the women's reservation Bill in Parliament, a significant milestone was achieved on September 20 as the Lok Sabha passed a Bill with overwhelming consensus. This historic amendment to the Constitution grants one-third reservation to women in both the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies. Impressively, a resounding 454 Members of Parliament (MPs) voiced their support for the bill, while only 2 MPs cast dissenting votes.

This bill was officially introduced during the current special session of Parliament. Marking September 19 a 'Historic Day', Prime Minister Narendra Modi called upon the Opposition to collectively support the Bill, known as the 'Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam,'. The next crucial step is for the Rajya Sabha to take up the Bill for consideration during the remaining two days of the ongoing special session, which concludes this Friday.

Highlights of the Women's Reservation Bill 2023

The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Amendment) Bill of 2023 aims to enhance gender representation in legislative bodies through several key features:

Women's Reservation: The Bill establishes a pivotal provision, ensuring the allocation of approximately one-third of all parliamentary and legislative seats for women. This groundbreaking initiative encompasses the Lok Sabha, state legislative assemblies, and the Legislative Assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. Moreover, it extends to the reserved seats for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in both the Lok Sabha and state legislatures.

Commencement of Reservation: The implementation of this reservation policy takes effect subsequent to the publication of the census conducted following the enactment of this Bill. Post-census, a comprehensive delimitation process will ensue to allocate seats exclusively for women. Initially, this reservation will be upheld for a duration of 15 years; however, it shall persist until such time as determined by a legislation enacted by the Parliament.The government has indicated that the next delimitation exercise, as per existing law, may occur after the first census following 2026. Considering these factors, implementation is unlikely to occur before 2029.

Seat Rotation: To enhance equitable representation, seats designated for women will undergo periodic rotation following each delimitation exercise, guided by legislation enacted by the Parliament.

Process for this Bill to become a law

The process for this Bill to achieve legal status involves several key steps. Firstly, it must secure approval from both houses of Parliament through a special majority. Subsequently, in accordance with Article 368, the Constitution Amendment Bill necessitates ratification by a minimum of 50 percent of the States. Their consent is vital as the bill impacts their constitutional rights.

History of women's Reservation Bill

Beginning of journey under Rajiv Gandhi government 1989

Rajiv Gandhi's visionary move in 1989 laid the foundation for the Women's Reservation Bill. His commitment to women's empowerment through political representation initiated a significant legislative journey.
While the Lok Sabha endorsed the bill in 1989, it faced resistance and challenges in the Rajya Sabha, ultimately preventing its passage. This setback was a critical turning point in the bill's history.

First Wave: 1992-1993

Resilience and Progress: P.V. Narasimha Rao's Initiatives

The '90s witnessed attempts to revive the bill and overcome the hurdles it faced. Reservation for women in Panchayats and Municipalities was provided by the insertion of articles 243D and 243T in the Constitution vide the Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 and the Constitution (74th Amendment) Act, 1992, respectively. Despite initial obstacles, the idea of women's reservation persisted, leading to further efforts.

Second Wave: 1996

Historical Milestone: Deve Gowda's Bold Move
The mid-'90s brought a turning point when Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda made a bold move by introducing the bill in the Lok Sabha in 1996.It aimed to reserve a minimum of one-third of seats filled by direct election in the House of the People and State Legislative Assemblies for women. This marked a resurgence of the bill's importance in national politics.

The Pivotal Role of the Mukherjee

The Mukherjee Committee's recommendations played a crucial role in shaping the bill's final form. It addressed key aspects and paved the way for its eventual approval.
Despite progress, the bill faced another hurdle when the Lok Sabha dissolved, causing it to lapse once again. However, its resilience remained intact.

Facing Uphill Battles: Atal Bihari Vajpayee's Attempts

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's pursuit of the Women's Reservation Bill in 1998 added a new chapter to its journey. The late '90s and early 2000s saw persistent challenges in securing support for the bill.The bill faced multiple reintroductions under the Vajpayee government, but garnering widespread consensus remained a challenge.

Resurgence Under UPA Government: Manmohan Singh's Leadership in 2004

The UPA government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, brought new hope for the Women's Reservation Bill in 2004.The bill found a place in the Common Minimum Programme of the UPA government, signifying its commitment to women's empowerment through legislative means.

Tabling in the Rajya Sabha
To prevent the bill from lapsing again, it was strategically tabled in the Rajya Sabha. This move was pivotal in its eventual approval.
The bill's journey under the UPA government also saw the incorporation of key recommendations from the Mukherjee Committee, making it more comprehensive and equitable.

Winning the Union Cabinet's Approval

The bill underwent thorough examination by a standing committee in 2008-2009, where its various aspects were scrutinized to ensure its effectiveness.In 2010, the Union Cabinet finally granted its stamp of approval to the Women's Reservation Bill, a significant step toward its realization.

Rajya Sabha Triumph: March 9, 2010
The bill achieved a major triumph when it was passed in the Rajya Sabha with an overwhelming majority on March 9, 2010, marking a historic moment in Indian politics.
Despite the Rajya Sabha's approval, the Women's Reservation Bill faced a missed opportunity in the Lok Sabha, where it remains pending.The bill's journey took another unfortunate turn when it lapsed in 2014 with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha.

The Women’s Reservation Bill [Constitution 108th Amendment Bill, 2008]


  1. Increased Women's Representation: The primary objective of this bill is to enhance the representation of women in India's political landscape. To achieve this, it proposes reserving one-third of the seats in both the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies exclusively for women.
  2. Allocation Mechanism: The bill outlines that the allocation of these reserved seats will be determined by a designated parliamentary authority. This authority will play a pivotal role in ensuring a fair and equitable distribution of seats among women candidates.
  3. Empowering Marginalized Groups: Recognizing the importance of empowering marginalized communities, the bill goes a step further by reserving one-third of the seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for women belonging to these groups. This dual reservation system aims to address the historical underrepresentation of both women and these communities in the political sphere.
  4. Rotational Allotment: To prevent the concentration of reserved seats in specific constituencies, the bill permits the rotational allotment of these seats. This means that over time, different constituencies within a state or union territory will have the opportunity to host women representatives.
  5. Temporary Measure: It's important to note that the reservation of seats for women is not a permanent fixture. The bill specifies that this provision will cease to exist after 15 years from the commencement of the Amendment Act. This is a strategic move to assess the impact of these changes and possibly make further adjustments in the future.

Obstacles for Women in Politics

  1. Party Ticket Distribution: Despite party commitments in their constitutions, data reveals that women candidates are often granted fewer party tickets, often relying on family political connections.
  2. Perceived Electability: The perception that female candidates are less likely to win elections can hinder their ticket allocation.
  3. Financial Barriers: The high campaign costs, limited financial independence, and insufficient party support pose significant obstacles for women candidates.
  4. Vulnerability: Female politicians frequently encounter humiliation, abuse, and threats, adding to the difficulties of participation.
  5. Patriarchy's Grip: Deep-seated patriarchal norms lead many women to prioritize family and household duties over political ambitions.

What is the current status of Women's Reservations in India?

  • Only 14% of Lok Sabha MPs are women (78 in total).
  • Women comprise around 11% of the Rajya Sabha.
  • Gujarat: Only 8% of the candidates in its 182-member parliament are women.
  • Himachal Pradesh: Out of one in every two voters being women, the legislature elected 67 males and just one female representative.
  • Global Rankings: India is ranked 144th out of 193 nations in terms of women's representation in parliament, according to a survey by the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Importance of the Women's Reservation Bill (WRB):

  1. Addressing Historical Gender Disparities: The WRB plays a pivotal role in rectifying historical gender disparities within India's political landscape.
  2. Constitutional Adherence and Caste Diversity: It ensures adherence to constitutional principles while considering the diversity across caste groups.
  3. Gender Quotas for Equitable Representation: The WRB introduces gender quotas to remedy the gender gap prevalent in political leadership.
  4. Empowering Women through Panchayats: Recent studies have demonstrated the positive impact of the WRB on women's empowerment and resource allocation within panchayats.
  5. Unlocking the Power of the Women's Vote: By harnessing the strength of the women's vote, this legislation promotes a more inclusive and representative democracy.
  6. Cultural Impact: Female political leaders challenge traditional gender roles, inspiring broader social and cultural change. Their presence in politics breaks stereotypes and promotes a more inclusive, gender-equal society.
  7. Positive Outcomes: A 2010 study by the Harvard Kennedy School highlighted the benefits of female representation in village councils, including increased female participation and improved responsiveness to vital concerns like access to drinking water, infrastructure, sanitation, and roads.
  8. Better Decision-Making: Diverse perspectives result in more balanced policymaking. Active female involvement leads to laws and regulations that consider the entire population's needs, not just a segment.

Arguments in Support of and Against the Women's Reservation Bill:

Supporting the Bill:

  • The active political participation of women is imperative in their ongoing struggle against abuse, discrimination, and inequality. Moreover, it plays a pivotal role in advancing gender equality.
  • Sustainable progress in human development indicators is intricately linked to the active involvement of women in politics.
  • A truly representative and functional democracy hinges upon the political engagement of all segments of society, including women.
  • Women's participation in politics can serve as a catalyst, inspiring them to contribute to the creation of a more equitable and prosperous society, ultimately fostering inclusive national development.
  • The elimination of gender discrimination and the empowerment of women, as stipulated in the Preamble and Constitution of India, are fundamental to the promotion of equal rights and freedom.

Against the Bill:

  • Concerns arise that the Women's Reservation Bill may perpetuate the unequal status of women, as they might not be perceived as competing on the basis of merit.
  • Some contend that reservations could predominantly favor privileged women, potentially worsening the circumstances of marginalized and underprivileged groups.
  • The rotation of reserved constituencies in each election could diminish the incentive for Members of Parliament (MPs) to work diligently for their constituents, as they may become ineligible for re-election from the same constituency.
  • Critics fear that reservations could lead to a "proxy culture" wherein elected women lack real decision-making power and act on behalf of male counterparts.


The Women's Reservation Bill represents a significant stride towards achieving gender equality in Indian politics, with its aim of reserving 33% of seats for women in Parliament and legislative assemblies. However, to ensure the successful implementation of this transformative legislation, it is imperative to address both political challenges and societal norms. This journey demands a concerted effort, including advocacy, increased public awareness, and meticulous consensus-building. While the path ahead may be challenging, it is also brimming with promise and potential.

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