Empowering Women in Indian Politics: Women’s Reservation Bill

Posted On - 3 October, 2023 • By - King Stubb & Kasiva

On September 20, the Lok Sabha passed the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-eight Amendment) Bill 2023. This historic proposal advocates for the reservation of one-third of all seats in the Lok Sabha, state legislatures, and the Delhi legislative assembly for women. It was introduced during a special session of Parliament, and received overwhelming support, with 454 MPs voting in favour and only 2 opposing it.

Nonetheless, a provision in the bill postpones its implementation until after the next delimitation exercise, which is contingent on the completion of the next census. While supporting the concept of women’s reservations, opposition party members urged immediate implementation and sought separate reservations for women from OBC and minority backgrounds.

The Bill focuses on amending Article 239AA and introducing new articles, specifically Articles 330A and 332A, to introduce 33 per cent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies. However, it includes a sunset provision while leaving the provisions for Anglo-Indian community representation unchanged. This historic legislation represents a significant step forward in India’s legislative bodies toward gender equality and political empowerment.

Historical Context

Reservation for women in Indian politics has its origins in the Indian national movement. As early as 1931, leaders such as Begum Shah Nawaz and Sarojini Naidu emphasized the importance of women’s representation in political structures. However, it was not until the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution that 1/3rd of seats in Panchayati Raj Institutions and urban local bodies were reserved for women. Various committees and commissions have recommended extending such reservations to higher legislative bodies over the years, reflecting the need to empower women politically.

Key Features of the Bill

The Women’s Reservation Bill of 2023 brings several crucial provisions into effect:

  1. Reservation for Women in the Lower House: The bill amends the Constitution to include Article 330A, which replicates the reservation mechanism for SCs/STs. It requires that 1/3rd  of Lok Sabha seats be reserved for women, with seats allocated by rotation among constituencies in states and union territories.
  2. Reservation for Women in State Legislative Assemblies: Article 332A requires all state legislative assemblies to reserve seats for women. Furthermore, 1/3rd of seats reserved for SCs and STs must be allocated to women, as must 1/3rd of total seats filled through direct elections to legislative assemblies.
  3. Reservation for Women in NCT of Delhi: It amends Article 239AA to extend women’s suffrage to the Delhi legislative assembly.
  4. Commencement of Reservation: It states that the reservation will become effective after the next census. Delimitation will then be implemented to reserve seats for women. The reservation is initially set for 15 years, but it can be extended based on future legislation.
  5. Rotation of Seats: Women’s seats will be rotated after each delimitation, as determined by a law passed by Parliament.

The Debate

Arguments for the Bill

The Women’s Reservation Bill is a requirement in India for several reasons. For starters, it represents an important step toward achieving gender equality in Indian politics, effectively addressing the long-standing gender gap in political representation. Secondly, the bill’s necessity is underscored under the garb of correcting the historical underrepresentation of women in politics. Thirdly, it protects women’s right to self-representation and self-determination by allowing them to actively shape policies that directly affect their lives and ensuring that their voices are heard during decision-making processes.

Furthermore, the Bill facilitates a more diverse legislature, which brings a broader range of perspectives to governance, contributing to more informed policy formulation and overall better governance. It also empowers women by allowing them to actively participate in politics and assume leadership roles in a variety of sectors.

Arguments Against the Bill

While the Women’s Reservation Bill in India has received widespread support, there are some significant arguments against its implementation. Firstly, critics argue that, unlike caste groups, women are not a homogeneous community, making it difficult to apply reservations to all women. This point of view contends that a single reservation policy cannot effectively address the diverse experiences and needs of women. Second, some have raised a constitutional challenge, arguing that reservations for women may violate the Constitution’s promise of equality. Critics are concerned that such reservations will be interpreted as women not competing on merit, potentially lowering their social standing. These objections to the bill reflect a complex debate over the best way to address gender disparities in Indian politics.

Furthermore, there may be implementation issues such as:

  1. The bill’s effectiveness is contingent on the completion of delimitation, which is dependent on accurate census data. Unfortunately, the timeline for this critical step is still unknown, potentially delaying the bill’s implementation.
  2. Secondly, the bill lacks a quota for women from OBCs, which was noted by the Geeta Mukherjee Committee in 1996, raising concerns about equitable representation in the political landscape.


The Women’s Reservation Bill of 2023 represents a watershed moment in Indian politics for gender equality and women’s empowerment. While it is not without its challenges and criticisms, its importance in promoting women’s political participation, diversity in governance, and the prioritization of women’s issues cannot be overstated. With this critical step, India paves the way for a more inclusive and equitable political landscape, setting a precedent for the rest of the world to follow. The journey toward gender equality in politics is ongoing, but the Women’s Reservation Bill represents a significant step forward.


What is the significance of the Women’s Reservation Bill?

The Women’s Reservation Bill is extremely important because it is a critical step toward achieving gender equality in Indian politics. It addresses women’s historical underrepresentation in policymaking, encourages diverse perspectives in governance, and inspires future generations of female leaders.

Are there any arguments against the Women’s Reservation Bill?

Yes, there are arguments against the bill. Some argue that because women are not a homogeneous group, reservations are difficult to apply universally. Critics also express concern about potential violations of the constitutional guarantee of equality, implying that reservations may be interpreted as women failing to compete on merit.

What are the implementation challenges associated with the Women’s Reservation Bill?

Uncertainty about the completion of delimitation, which is dependent on census data, is one of the implementation challenges. Furthermore, the bill does not include a quota for women from OBCs, which was raised by the Geeta Mukherjee Committee in 1996, raising concerns about equitable representation in politics.

King Stubb & Kasiva,
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