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Alternative Bill for Women's Reservation (2000)

The Alternative Bill proposed by LOK SATTA and other members of the Forum for Democratic Reforms has altered the terms of national debate on woman's empowerment. The attention has now shifted from mechanical reservation of seats to statuary party quotas for women, which is a far more practical, democratic and elegant solution.

The Bill introduced in parliament is extremely defective, and will be counterproductive. Reservation of seats with rotation by draw of lots will lead to rotation of nearly 90 % seats in every election and reduce our democracy to a farce. It will also lead to proxy candidates and natural leadership will not develop.

LOK SATTA studied the issue in depth and in collaboration with Center for Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Lokayan and Manushi, a credible and practical model was developed. Past evidence shows that the success rate of women candidates in elections was higher than that of men. The voters clearly do not discriminate against women candidates. Therefore what is needed is not reservation, but forcing parties to nominate sufficient number of women candidates. Such a Bill was drafted providing for the necessary checks to ensure adequate women's representation and equitable distribution. This alternative Bill was circulated among parliamentarians, political parties and media and received wide acceptance. The Election Commission formally endorsed the Bill.

This advocacy altered the terms of national debate on the subject, and any future law on the subject will almost certainly be based on the model developed by LOK SATTA and the Forum for Democratic Reforms to enhance women's representation in legislatures.



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