Women’s representation in legislatures is less than 10% in 20 states

In the newly inaugurated Parliament House, the BJP government made the Women’s Reservation Bill its top priority.

The main idea

  • The Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam, or 128th Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2023, proposes reserving one-third of Lok Sabha and State Assemblies seats for women. Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the measure as a watershed moment, describing it as a divine mandate to empower women. The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha following a day of consideration.

Historical Background

  • The history of the Women’s Reservation Bill is lengthy and arduous.
  • It was first proposed in 1996 by the H.D. Deve Gowda-led United Front government, but it was not approved.
  • Subsequent attempts to enact the law met with the same fate, collapsing with the dissolution of the Houses.

Key Bill Provisions

  • Reservation Percentage: The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023, seeks a 33% reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and state legislatures.
  • Marginalised Groups Included: The reservation also includes seats allotted for women from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  • Constitutional Amendments: The Bill adds additional provisions 330A and 332A to the Constitution, which are expressly for the Lok Sabha and state legislatures, respectively.
  • Reservation Period: The proposed reservation will be in place for 15 years from the date the Act is passed.
  • Delimitation Dependence: Reservation implementation is subject on the completion of the delimitation process.

The current representation of women


  • The Lok Sabha currently has only 82 female members, accounting for 15% of its overall strength.
  • Even after more than 70 years of election history, India has never had a higher representation of women in its Parliament.
  • In the 2019 general election, women made up only 9% of the candidates.

State Legislative assembly:

  • The picture is considerably bleaker in state legislative assembly, with only Tripura exceeding the 15% mark.
  • Over 20 states and union territories, including Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Karnataka, have less than 10% female participation.

Analysis by Party

Women’s presence in the Lok Sabha across political parties

  • BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party): Women currently make up only 13.5% of the BJP’s Lok Sabha MPs.
  • Biju Janata Dal (BJD): With 41.7% of its Lok Sabha MPs being women, the BJD leads in women’s representation.
  • Trinamool Congress: Trinamool Congress comes in second, with 40.9% of Lok Sabha women MPs.

Female representation in State Legislative Assemblies

  • West Bengal (Trinamool Congress): The Trinamool Congress has the greatest percentage of female MLAs, with 15.3%.
  • Chhattisgarh (Congress): The Congress party has 14.7% female MLAs in Chhattisgarh, indicating a considerable presence of women in the state assembly.
  • Political parties that fall short in terms of female representation
  • Karnataka (Congress): The Congress party has only 3% female MLAs in Karnataka, demonstrating a considerable gender disparity.
  • Telangana (Bharat Rashtra Samithi): Telangana’s Bharat Rashtra Samithi performs similarly poorly, with only 3.4% of MLAs being women.
  • Tamil Nadu (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, DMK): The DMK has a comparatively low presence of women MLAs in Tamil Nadu, with only 4.5% of the state assembly made up of women.

Women’s parliamentary presence in India in comparison to other countries

  • India: Women are now represented in parliament at a modest 15%, which, while an increase, remains quite low.
  • Iran: India ranks barely above Iran, which has only 6% female parliamentarians.
  • South African Republic: South Africa, on the other hand, has made considerable progress in female representation, with a far higher number of women in its national legislature.
  • Ethiopia has also made significant progress towards gender balance in its national legislatures..

Challenges to Female Representation

  • Party Ticket Allocation: Despite guarantees in party constitutions, data reveal that women candidates receive disproportionately fewer party tickets, sometimes relying on family political connections.
  • Perceived Electability: Women’s ticket allocation is hampered by the perception that they are less likely to win elections.
  • Barriers in the Structure: Election campaigns that are demanding and time-consuming, combined with family commitments, discourage many women from actively participating.
  • Women politicians face humiliation, harassment, and threats, making involvement even more difficult.
  • Financial Restriction: Women candidates face challenges due to high campaign expenditures, restricted financial independence, and a lack of party support.
  • Internalised Patriarchy: Because of engrained patriarchal traditions, many women prioritise family and household chores over political goals.

Need for such a reservation

  • Ensuring Representation: Reservation ensures women’s participation in decision-making bodies, hence addressing underrepresentation.
  • Reservation promotes women to enter politics, run for office, and participate in the political process.
  • Participation in legislative processes increases women’s political potential, fostering competent leaders.
  • Reservation alters public attitudes towards women in politics, challenging preconceptions and encouraging participation.
  • Promoting Gender-Sensitive Policies: Women politicians campaign for policies that address concerns such as violence against women and discrimination.

@the end

The Women’s Reservation Bill’s passage marked a watershed point in Indian politics. Gender equality in political representation is a critical step towards a more inclusive democracy. It is critical that all parties collaborate to guarantee the successful implementation of this groundbreaking legislation and to elevate women’s voices in decision-making.

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