Jul 16, 2016

Why is passing the Women’s Reservation Bill urgent?

National Alliance of Ab33nahin50 meeting Swati Maliwal, Chairperson, Delhi Commission for Women on endorsing the Memorandum

National Alliance of Ab33nahin50 meeting Swati Maliwal, Chairperson, Delhi Commission for Women on endorsing the Memorandum

 “Does it really require to have women’s reservation in the Parliament? Don’t you think efficient men will lose their opportunity to make the necessary impact?” 

A young woman political leader put this question to the delegation of women’s rights organisation (WRO) when they met her earlier this year to seek support to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill.  It took a while to convince her that women’s reservation in the national parliament and state legislatures was a necessary step to ensure women’s participation in decision-making. Assuming that women would automatically be able to create a level playing field in the political arena without any affirmative action is a misplaced idea. Consider this:

A mere 11% representation for 49% people of India i.e. women .  51% population, i.e. men, have a hefty representation of 89%  in the Parliament. Is this even a fair division for decision-making? 

In the South Asian region, India ranks fifth, in women’s representation in Parliament, out of the eight countries . 

Among the BRICS nations, India ranks fourth out of the five countries. Globally, India ranks 103 out of 190 countries in women’s representation in the lower house of Parliament. 

After many obstacles in the Parliament, the Women’s Reservation Bill in India, providing for 33% reservation of seats for women, was passed in the Rajya Sabha on March 9, 2010. This was the first ray of hope. With the 2014 general elections in sight and the possibility of a new political landscape in the country, women’s rights groups lobbied to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill in the 2014 winter session of Parliament. The alliance was promised complete support from all political leaders but the Women’s Reservation Bill was not passed in the Lok Sabha in 2014. The election manifesto of the present NDA government also focused on ‘not 33% but 50%’. But since coming to power, the government has not taken it forward. 

Since late 2015, the national alliance for “#ab33nahi50” is championing the cause staging silent marches and dharna at Jantar Mantar, a nationwide signature campaign, lobbying with ministers and MPs and MLAs. The women of the nation demand that the Women’s Reservation Bill be introduced, discussed and put to vote in the Lok Sabha to begin a new era in the legislative history of the country. Let’s keep our promise to the women of India!

Before this monsoon session, we seek your support on signing the petition to the Prime Minister:

Sign the petition 

Endorsing the Memorandum to the Parliamentarians


And tweeting to the Prime Minister #ab33nahi50 from July 15 to July 18, 2016.

Read the full story here


Written by: Rajini. R. Menon Regional Gender Coordinator - Gender Justice, Oxfam India



1 http://www.censusindia.gov.in/2011census/population_enumeration.aspx accessed in July 2016

2 http://eci.nic.in/eci_main1/ElectionStatistics.aspx (Accessed in July 2016)




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