What is Women Reservation Bill

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Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader initiates a hunger strike in New Delhi, urging the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill (WRB), which aims to enhance women’s representation in legislative bodies.

What is Women Reservation Bill (WRB):

The Women’s Reservation Bill, a proposed constitutional amendment, seeks to reserve one-third (33%) of seats for women in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies. This provision is seen as a crucial step towards empowering women in Indian politics.

Timeline of the Bill:

  • 1996: First introduced but lapsed due to dissolution of Lok Sabha.
  • 1998: Reintroduced but did not receive adequate support.
  • 1999: Reintroduced in the 13th Lok Sabha but faced challenges.
  • 2004: Included in the Common Minimum Programme and tabled in Rajya Sabha in 2008.
  • 2010: Passed in Rajya Sabha but lapsed in Lok Sabha.

Challenges in Passing the Bill:

  1. Heated Debates and Sexist Remarks: The WRB has faced intense debates and sexist comments, hindering its passage.
  2. Quota within Quota: The proposal for reservation of seats for Other Backward Class (OBC) women within the 1/3rd reservation for women has been a point of contention.
  3. Lack of Political Will: Many political parties have not taken substantial steps to support women’s reservation.
  4. Diversion of Focus: Opponents argue that the WRB diverts attention from crucial electoral reforms.

Status of Women Representation in India:

  • Gujarat: Only 8% of women legislators in the 182-member assembly.
  • Himachal Pradesh: Elected only 1 woman out of 67 legislators, despite a significant female voter base.
  • National Average: The national average of women in state assemblies is approximately 8%.
  • Global Ranking: India ranks 144 out of 193 countries in women’s representation in parliament.

Importance of the WRB:

  • Historical Inequality: Women have historically faced systemic inequalities and barriers.
  • Inclusive Representation: WRB promotes representation of women across caste groups, adhering to constitutional principles.
  • Empowerment through Reservations: Studies have shown positive impacts of reservations on women’s empowerment and resource allocation.

The Way Forward:

  • Unlocking Potential: India, with its substantial women population, can significantly progress by empowering women politically.
  • Initiating Democratic Participation: WRB can jump-start the democratic process, allowing a majority of the population to actively participate in governance decisions.


The Women’s Reservation Bill is a significant step towards promoting gender equality and fostering a more inclusive and representative democracy in India. It’s imperative to address challenges and garner support to realize the potential of this important legislation.

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