File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

Gender Parity In Governance: Critical Analysis Of Women Reservation Law

The article deals with the intricacies of the women's reservation law in India. The present law promises 30 per cent women reservation in the state legislature and union parliament. Examining the provisions provided under the law the author strives to examine the necessity of the same keeping in mind the background of a patriarchal society where political representation may not necessarily translate into empowerment and suggests alternatives. The author also points out the arbitrary provisions in the law and suggests amendments to the same. In the end, the author examines the provision of an equal opportunity commission to fight heterogeneity among women for better achievement of the objectives of the law

The 128th constitutional amendment popularly called the Women's Reservation Law, or Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam, was passed by unanimous support in both houses of the parliament on 21st September '23. The law promises 33% reservation to the women in Lok Sabha, State legislative assemblies, and the Legislative Assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, including those reserved for SCs and STs provided for 15 years. The law promises inclusive development and aims to establish an enabling atmosphere for women to express their grievances and assert their entitlements. Though the future perspective of the law looks promising there are a few questions that we need to address (i) why the policy of reservation is pertinent? (ii) whether there are any loopholes in the law. (iii) And in the end, who will reap the benefit of the legislation?

Need For Women Reservation Bill?

Let's start by addressing the first question why women's reservation is important in India? Reservation is provided to correct the historical wrongs meted out with the community. The government provides representation through reservation which helps the community to voice out their concern and make changes in the social fabric through protected discrimination. It gives them a level playing field and helps them to excel as other communities. As Indian society is deeply patriarchal, gender roles have been dictated to them since eternity which impeded their growth and development. we have seen women constituting half of the population of the country and their presentation is limited to only 14.4% in the lower house in 2019 and 12.24 in the upper house in 2021[1] much below the global average of 26.2%[2].

According to the UNDP Gender Social Norms Index 2023, nearly half the world still believes that women are less capable than men in positions of power in politics and India is no different. We can safely conclude that Patriarchal norms valorize feminity. Therefore to correct this conditioning which has infested Indian society which also resulted in dawdling of implementation of the law for 27 years reservation becomes pertinent.

Should We Consider Alternatives To The Reservation Policy?

Now the question arises if reservation is enough to uplift the status of women in patriarchal society. To answer the question it is not enough to liberate women from the shackles of patriarchy because they have not only been the victims of patriarchal norms but have become agencies of the same consciously or unconsciously. We have witnessed this at the grassroots level when 50% reservation for women in panchayats was institutionalized elected women representatives went up to 45.61%[3] but the issue of Sarpanch-patism was assuaged which is to say women are seen as proxy candidates, Gender roles dictated women's autonomy concerning men.

But now the question arises as to why we still demand reservations. It is a mechanism to provide them representation which ensures their issues are brought to the forefront and awareness regarding the same deciphers in society and not brushed under the carpet which results in social change. Therefore reservation is a much-needed affirmative action for political and social emancipation of women.

But the legislation has sparked criticism, arguing it may deprive women of meritocracy, similar to the hostility towards SC and ST reservation in 1950 and 1992, respectively parallel to the reasoning of constituent assembly member Renuka Roy. But we have witnessed the progress the communities like SC ST and OBC have made in the years that followed. After providing representation to them their concerns were addressed and legislations like SC and ST Atrocities Act 1992 were introduced to emancipate them from atrocities inflicted upon them by the society.

But representation will translate into empowerment that's not the scenario every time. For instance, Rwanda has the highest women representation in the world which is only due to historical reasons. When the civil war broke out from 1st October 1990 to 18th July 1994 it resulted in a paucity of males in society and the economy would crash with a meagre male workforce so then President Paul Kagame provided a 30% quota to women which resulted in their political emancipation.

But when these political representatives were interviewed many revealed that still their husbands and their families expect them to do the traditional roles even after being financially independent or even sole breadwinner of the family. Therefore we can conclude by saying that no piece of legislation can assuage patriarchal norms in society it is necessary to investigate other possibilities to enhance efficiency which are as follows:
    1. Party Reservation - we need to provide reservations within the parties as it automatically trickles down the benefits in the parliament. The Representation of People Act 1950 needs to be amended so that Party leaders can reserve tickets for the women politicians to increase the representation. But it is a double-edged sword that may result in the party just putting tokenistic leaders like Smriti Irani or disproportionally allotting tickets to elite women in the name of female empowerment; this would undermine the objective of inclusive politics.
    2. Improvement at the executive level � conducive societal conditions will prevail if qualitatively and quantitatively women's participation is increased. Female police officers should be trained in self-defence which will increase their competence and the practice of Pink police should be encouraged.
    3. Conducive Environment for the Women � Mere representation is unlikely to facilitate empowerment unless acquainted with stringent punishments for disparaging remarks, behaviours that promote objectification, and implementation of a handbook released by CJI Chandrachud to curb stereotypes. Apart from this Provisions like entry of toddlers and breastfeeding should be encouraged as in Australia and infrastructure suitable for toddlers like playgrounds should be specifically tailored to facilitate women-led development in the country.
    4. Encouraging Pro-Women Organisation - These organizations work to increase women's representation in elected office and advocate legislative practices, and training programmes to upsurge participation for women who enter into public life for the first time and do not have enough knowledge and skill to handle affairs of politics.
    5. Financial stability programs - Reservation can only increase representation but doesn't ensure social upliftment. The government should underscore financial inclusion schemes like MNREGA for women exclusively instead of providing freebies. Where employment opportunities are provided so that they are financially empowered which will pave the way for social alleviation ultimately providing conditions which are prerequisites as mentioned above for political representation.

    Loopholes In The Current Law?
    Now let's address what are the loopholes in the current law. Though the law was passed by unanimous support in the parliament, instead of acting without a delay on the law women have to wait for another 5 years for its implementation. The law will be operational after the delimitation exercise which will be conducted once the census is complete which is due in 2024.

    The SC reservation in India was institutionalized in 1950 and delimited in 1952, while the OBC reservation was operationalized in 1992 and delimited in 2002 then why not follow the practice and conduct delimitation after the reservation is provided? Change through reforms is gradual, which is termed a tranquilising drug by Martin Luther King in his speech I HAVE A DREAM. Why do women have to wait for the completion of the delimitation exercise which is not the ritual? The government has not come up with convincing explanations yet.

    How The Provision Of Rotational Reservation Is Arbitrary?
    The other issue to be addressed is the provision of rotational reservation. This means reservation will be provided alternatively for 15 years. The rotation term of reserved posts for women should be extended up to two or three terms because generally it is seen, the first term for women representatives has proved to be a period of learning as women bear the brunt of patriarchal social practices and only in the second or third terms do women representatives start showing their real performance. A change in political status brings about a larger transformation in socioeconomic processes.

    Maximizing the duration of reserved seats for women to two or three terms would provide women with an opportunity and discretion to navigate the power dynamics in politics. Providing them with an uninterrupted period of 10 to 15 years perhaps guides them towards the right trajectory, and cultivating inclination to be self-reliant. But the other side of the coin needs to be examined.

    Implementing a rotation system for reserved seats would require the current candidates to vacate one-third of the constituencies. This has been perceived as an act of prejudice towards the candidates who had nurtured their constituencies following previous elections. However, these candidates have also utilized their position to impede opposition and ensure their own party's control over the seat. Far too frequently, these secure positions have transformed into feudal domains therefore Rotation has the potential to emancipate these groups[4]. Therefore the provision of rotational reservation should be revised.

    Beneficiaries Of The Current Law
    Now let's address the elephant in the room i.e. who will be the beneficiaries of the law? Will there be a deluge of female candidates from politically influential families who may capitalise on this prospect soon? The vertical reservation that is provided will keep these biases in check and ensure proportional representation to all the communities. As of date, the parliament has 84 reserved seats for SC and another 43 for ST. Currently, the parliament has allocated 84 seats to SC and 43 seats to ST.

    According to the new measure, there will be a total of 181 seats reserved for women. Out of these, 43 seats will be allocated based on quotas, while the remaining 138 seats will be open to the general category according to the new law. However, the argument put forth by the protestors regarding women not being a homogenous group needs to be taken into consideration. The representation may give us a skewed picture as reservation couldn't be extended to all the minority groups to accommodate heterogeneity.

    Suggestions By Eoc To Fight Heterogeneity
    The EOC (equal opportunity commission), as conceptualized by the Sachar Committee and developed into an implementation model by the Menon Committee observed reservations do not warrant equality of opportunities because of the heterogeneity involved and developed a model to address the problem and accommodate diverse groups. Hence, the EOC is meant for the deprived groups to access their rights and entitlements, and to address inter-group inequalities by acting as a grievance redressal body to regulate direct and indirect discrimination against minorities and marginalized communities.

    The Law provides 'symmetric protection', that is, it protects minorities as well as majorities. It focuses on all forms of discrimination and is not confined to caste, sex or religion. But we need to be aware of the overlapping of responsibilities of pre-existing commissions like the National Commission for Women, National Commission for scheduled tribes etc.

    Therefore to keep such issues at bay, the Commission's authority should encompass all "disadvantaged groups" who have been either explicitly or tacitly denied equal opportunities, and should not be restricted just to the comparatively tiny public sector. Segment of the economic system as most of the profitable opportunities in new industries are found in the private sector, which has not been subject to affirmative action policies thus far.[5] These suggestions by the committee should be considered by the government for the rampant success of the objectives of the law.

    With this, we come to the end of the article. We have analysed why women's reservation is pertinent followed by examining the loopholes in the law last but not least we examined who is going to be the beneficiary of the legislation. I would like to end this article with comments of Angelica Aribam, founder of the Femme First Foundation, on the women's reservation Law saying reservation is "imperfect, but important": "The women of this country have waited for 27 years to see this Law enacted. Even though the current Law is far from perfect, it is needed, we can't afford to wait another two decades.

    • Women Reservation in Parliament and State Assemblies. (n.d.). Press Information Bureau. Retrieved December 29, 2023, from
    • IPU comparative data on Structure of parliament. (n.d.). Parline: The IPU's Open Data Platform.
    • Representation in Panchayats. (n.d.).
    • n. (2009). Rethinking the rotation of reservation in panchayats. Retrieved December 30, 2023, from
    • Equal Opportunity Commission: What, Why And How? (2008, February). Retrieved December 29, 2023, from

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers

Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Increased Age For Girls Marriage


It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to inc...

Facade of Social Media


One may very easily get absorbed in the lives of others as one scrolls through a Facebook news ...

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...


The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of t...

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India: A...


The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a concept that proposes the unification of personal laws across...

Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Legal...


Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various sectors of the economy, and the legal i...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online

File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly