India’s Lower House Votes to Reserve a Third of Seats for Women


The bill passes with a total of 454 lawmakers voting in favour and only two voting against.

India’s lower house of parliament has passed a bill that would more than double the number of women lawmakers in its ranks, following several failed attempts to enact the measure stretching back decades.

The proposed law, called the Women’s Reservation Bill, would reserve one-third of seats in India’s lower house and state assemblies for women once it takes effect, which could take until at least the end of the decade.

Its revival comes months before general elections are due by May 2024, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a third term, and could be a further fillip to the already commanding position of Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of that poll.

Analysts say the chances of the bill being passed in parliament have brightened as opposition to it has shrunk over the years. A total of 454 lawmakers voted for the bill on Wednesday, with only two against.

“The proposal has been passed with more than a two-thirds majority of the members present in the house,” said Om Birla, the speaker of parliament.

When Prime Minister Indira Gandhi took office to lead India in 1966 she became the world’s second woman head of government in a parliamentary democracy, following Sri Lanka’s PM Sirimavo Bandaranaike six years earlier.

Two women have served in India’s ceremonial presidency and others have been chief ministers, party leaders and power brokers in the decades since, but that has not equated to broader political representation.

Just 104 of India’s 788 MPs were women after the last national election, according to government figures – a little over 13 percent.

Source : Aljazeera