Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government resurrected a long-pending bill to reserve a third of lawmakers’ seats for women, an important constituency for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party heading into next year’s national elections.
(Bloomberg) — Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government resurrected a long-pending bill to reserve a third of lawmakers’ seats for women, an important constituency for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party heading into next year’s national elections.
The Women’s Reservation Bill, which seeks to ensure reservation for women at the federal and state levels to improve representation of half of the country’s population, was presented to the lower house of parliament on Tuesday during a special session.
The bill and other measures like it have been kicking around since 1996, only to stall at different points in the legislative process.
“True empowerment of women will require greater participation of women in the decision-making process as they bring different perspectives and enrich the quality of legislative debates and decision making,” the bill reads.
India had a female prime minister for more than a decade and its current president is the second woman to hold that office. But representation in parliament is the lowest in the Group of 20 economies, at 15%.
Since coming to power in 2014, Modi positioned himself as a champion of women, subsidizing cooking gas and making instant divorce by Muslim men illegal. The latest effort to reach out to female voters may help him counter opposition parties who have formed an alliance to fight against him in 2024 elections.
Women cast more votes than men in the 2019 national elections, a sweeping BJP victory. At the time, about 46% of women voted for the BJP-led alliance compared with 44% of men, according to India Today-Axis exit surveys, and two other studies show more women seem to have voted for the BJP than men in all four states the party won in 2022.
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