The Lok Sabha has passed the Women’s Reservation Bill with a resounding majority of 454 votes in favour and only 2 against. This legislation, known as the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023, is a significant stride towards gender equality in Indian politics, providing 33 percent reservation for women in both the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.
Despite the overwhelming support for the Bill, it faced opposition from two Members of Parliament from the All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), Asaduddin Owaisi and Imtiaz Jaleel. They voted against the motion for the passage of the Bill, citing their concerns that it fails to include a sub-quota for Muslim and Other Backward Classes (OBC) women.
Asaduddin Owaisi, the AIMIM chief, explained his rationale behind voting against the motion, stating, “OBC people account for more than 50 percent of the country’s population. The idea behind this Bill is to provide representation to women who are inadequately represented in Parliament and other legislative bodies. Why is the government then denying reservation to women from a community that constitutes more than 50 percent of our population?”
Owaisi further emphasized the underrepresentation of Muslim women, stating, “Muslim women account for 7 percent of the national population, but their representation in our legislative bodies, including Parliament, is just 0.7 percent.”
The passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill comes as the first piece of legislation to be passed by the Lok Sabha in its new Parliament building. The Bill was approved after individual clauses were voted on, with Speaker Om Birla officially announcing its passage.
The “Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam” is seen as a significant step towards gender parity in Indian politics and is expected to open up more opportunities for women to participate in decision-making processes at the highest levels of government.
However, the debate over the inclusion of Muslim and OBC women in this historic legislation is likely to continue as the Bill progresses through the legislative process.