Lok Sabha votes to reserve 33pc of seats for women

Team Parvasi – Inside

Lok Sabha votes to reserve 33pc of seats for women

NEW DELHI: India’s lower house of parliament passed a bill on Wednesday 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 would reserve one-third of seats in Lok Sabha and state assemblies for women once it takes effect, which could take until at least the end of the decade.

It would not take effect before national elections next year, but will be a further fillip to the already commanding position of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party ahead of that poll.

A total of 454 lawmakers voted for the bill, with only two against.

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“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 Sirimavo Bandaranaike six years earlier.

Two women have served in India’s ceremonial presidency and others have been chief ministers, party leaders and powerbrokers 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 per cent.

Those figures reflect a broader under-representation of women in Indian public life. Just under a third of working-age Indian women were in the formal labour force last year, according to government data.

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