Road Ahead on Women Quota

  • The government recently brought The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023 to provide 33 per cent reservation to women in Lok Sabha and state Legislative Assemblies.
  • Earlier, In March 2010, Rajya Sabha passed The Constitution (One Hundred and Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2008, but the legislation was not taken up by Lok Sabha.

About the bill

  • The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Amendment) Bill 2023 stipulates that “as nearly as possible, one-third” of the total number of seats to be filled through direct election to the House of People shall be reserved for women. This includes the seats reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  • “Regardless of anything else that is said in this Part or Part VIII, the rules of the Constitution regarding reserving seats for women in the House of the People, the Legislative Assembly of State, and the Legislative Assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi shall take effect after delimitation is carried out for this purpose and the relevant numbers for the first census taken after the commencement of this Bill are made public.”
  • The Bill proposes a similar provision for Assemblies in the states and Delhi.
  • Like the previous Bill, this bill proposes to introduce new articles – 330A and 332A- in the Constitution.
  • These new provisions will introduce the changes for Lok Sabha and Assemblies respectively.
  • Like the 2010 Bill, the current one also has a sunset clause, mandating that the reservation will be for a period of 15 years from the date of commencement of the Act.
  • The key difference is that the Bill makes the implementation of women’s reservation contingent upon the delimitation process.

Implementation of the bill

  • The upshot of these conditions is that women’s reservation may not effectively be operationalised in Lok Sabha before the general elections of 2029.
  • The 42nd Amendment froze the delimitation exercise until the results of the first Census after 2000 was published. In 2001, this was further extended for 25 years.
  • And now, delimitation would happen after the results of the first Census after 2026 is published.

Identification of the reserved seats for women

  • The Bill states that one-third of the seats in Parliament and state Assemblies will be reserved for women.
    • However, it doesn’t specify how these seats will be identified.
  • This proposed constitution amendment is enabling in nature.
  • It will grant the government the power to enact a law for its implementation.
    • Hence, it is expected that the determination of seats will be addressed by a separate law that the government will introduce.

Current methodology of identification of seats reserved for SCS and STs

  • The Delimitation Act, 2002 lays down broad principles for reserving seats.
  • The Delimitation Commission appointed under the Act is responsible for deciding the number of Parliamentary and Assembly constituencies to be reserved based on the population.
  • “Constituencies in which seats are reserved for the Scheduled Castes shall be distributed in different parts of the State and located, as far as practicable, in those areas where the proportion of their population to the total is comparatively large,” Section 9 (1)(c) of the Act says.
  • Similarly, for the Scheduled Tribes, the Act says: “If at all possible, the electoral districts in which seats are reserved for members of the Scheduled Tribes should be situated in geographic areas in which the proportion of that group’s population to the total population is greatest.”

Constitutional amendments required to operationalise of women reservation

  • For delimitation which is a precondition for the implementation of reservation — Articles 82 and 170(3) of the Constitution would have to be amended.
  • Article 82 provides for the readjustment of constituencies (number and boundaries) of both Lok Sabha and state Assemblies after every Census. Article 170(3) deals with composition of the Legislative Assemblies.

Reservation for women in Panchayati Raj institutions and Urban Local Bodies

  • Article 243D – it provides for reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and women in Panchayats.
    • It also says that nothing in this part shall prevent the legislature of a state from making any provision for the reservation of seats in any Panchayat or offices of Chairpersons in the Panchayats at any level in favor of the backward classes of citizens. This provision can be made at any level.
    • Not less than one-third of the total number of seats reserved for SCs and STS shall be reserved for women.
  • According to government data, as on September 8, 2021, in at least 18 states, the percentage of women elected representatives in Panchayati Raj institutions was more than 50 per cent: Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Kerala, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Manipur, Telangana, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh.

Significance of the Bill

  • Gender Equality

    • Historically, women have been significantly underrepresented in India’s political landscape. This underrepresentation perpetuates gender inequality as it restricts women’s ability to influence policies and decisions that affect their lives.
    • The Women’s Reservation Bill is a proactive measure to ensure that women have a fair opportunity to participate in the highest levels of decision-making in the country, promoting gender equality in politics.
    • It signifies that Indian society recognizes and values the contributions of women in politics, sending a message that women’s voices and perspectives are essential in shaping the nation’s future.
  • Gender empowerment

    • The Women’s Reservation Bill empowers women by granting them equal access to the political arena.
    • It breaks down traditional barriers and prejudices that may have discouraged women from entering politics in the past, such as social norms and lack of opportunities.
    • As more women enter politics and gain experience, it helps in building their leadership and governance skills.
    • This empowerment extends beyond politics, as women who succeed in the political sphere can become role models for others, inspiring greater participation in various fields.
    • Through political participation, women gain the power to influence policies that directly impact their lives and those of their communities.
    • This empowerment translates into tangible changes in areas such as healthcare, education, gender-based violence, and economic opportunities.
  • Diverse Perspectives regarding women

    • Increased female representation in politics brings attention to gender- specific issues that may have been overlooked in the past.
    • Women often advocate for policies related to maternal health, childcare, gender-based violence, and economic opportunities that directly affect women and families.
    • Diverse perspectives lead to more comprehensive and balanced decision- making.
    • When women are actively involved in policymaking, the resulting laws and regulations are more likely to consider the needs and interests of the entire population, not just a segment of it.
    • Female political leaders can challenge traditional gender roles and norms, inspiring broader social and cultural change.
    • Their presence in politics can help break down stereotypes and create a more inclusive and gender-equal society.


  • The Women’s Reservation Bill, with its goal of reserving 33% of seats for women in Parliament and legislative assemblies, represents a significant step toward achieving gender equality in Indian politics.
  • However, overcoming political challenges and societal norms remains crucial for its successful implementation.
  • Advocacy, public awareness, and consensus-building efforts are essential for moving forward with this important legislation.