India’s passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill reflects its commitment to gender equality and women-led development: UN Women India


[Press release]

New Delhi, India — UN Women hailed India's passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill on September 18 as a landmark moment for gender equality, especially in terms of women’s political leadership. The passage of the bill is testimony to India’s commitment to women-led development, for which it mobilised global support during its G20 Presidency this year.

Calling it a “bold” and “transformative” step, Susan Ferguson, Country Representative of UN Women India, underlined the importance of political representation for women’s sustained empowerment, while hoping that the proposed Bill will be endorsed by all stakeholders, including Members of Parliament and civil society.

“We hope political parties across the board will come together to ensure timely implementation of the Bill given that gender quotas in policies and politics is crucial to advancing gender equality and women’s rights. The Women’s Reservation Bill strengthens India’s commitment to women-led development and sets a global example,” Ms. Ferguson said in a statement. “This is a moment of great elation for gender advocates and organisations that work for gender equality, women’s economic empowerment and their increased role in leadership position.”

The Women’s Reservation Bill proposes to reserve 33 per cent of seats in the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies for women.

India already reserves one-third of seats for women in Panchayati Raj Institutions at the village level and one-third of the offices of the chairperson at all levels of the Panchayati Raj Institutions, and in urban local bodies, respectively.

Studies about the impact of women in leadership positions have shown the positive effect of reservation on delivering policies, programmes and financing that improves the lives of women and their families, communities, and ultimately their nations.

“Globally, women currently occupy only 26.7 per cent of parliamentary seats and 35.5 per cent of local government positions,” Ms Ferguson said. “This quota reserving 33 per cent seats for women will leapfrog India into one of 64 countries around the world who have reserved seats for women in their national Parliaments. Typically, achieving a critical mass of 30 per cent representation by women in Parliament is known to yield positive outcomes for women’s empowerment. However, we hope that implementing such reservations will ultimately lead to achieving 50 per cent representation of women in Parliaments across the globe.”

UN Women also welcomed the proposed Bill’s reservation of seats for women leaders from scheduled castes and tribes as an “important step” that aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals and its core objective of leaving no-one behind.

“The United Nations remains committed to collaborating with member states to advance gender equality and recognising their crucial role in achieving Sustainable Development Goals and creating a more just and equitable world for all,” Ms Ferguson said in the statement. “India’s bold step sends a clear message to the world that the path to gender equality is not only essential, but attainable.”

Note to editors:

UN Women is the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. It works with governments and civil society to design laws, policies, programmes and services needed to ensure that the standards are effectively implemented and truly benefit women and girls worldwide.

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Daniel Ginsianmung
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