Gender Quotas Database

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Southern Asia

Bangladesh has a Unicameral parliament with legislated quotas for the single/lower house and at the sub-national level. 70 of 350 (20%) seats in the Jatiya Sangsad / Parliament are held by women.

At a glance

Structure of parliament Unicameral

Are there legislated quotas

For the Single / Lower house? Yes
For the Upper house? No
For the Sub-national level? Yes

Are there voluntary quotas?

Adopted by political parties? No
Is there additional information? Yes

Single / Lower House

Jatiya Sangsad / Parliament

Quota at the Sub-National Level

Voluntary Political Party Quotas*

* Only political parties represented in parliament are included. When a country has legislated quotas in place, only political parties that have voluntary quotas that exceed the percentage/number of the national quota legislation are presented in this table.

Additional information

Although women play a significant role in all activities related to the electoral process , they face cultural and structural challenges in participating on equal terms. Only 7% out of the 20% share of women in parliament are directly elected.

In 2018, the reserved seats for women were prolonged for another 25 years (National Democratic Insstitute 2018). The effects of the reserved seats quota system are debated in Bangladesh, the National Democratic Institute reports in their ‘Statement of NDI’s Pre-Election Assessment Mission to Bangladesh’s 2018 Parliamentary Elections’ that they had received reports  of women on occasions being referred to the reserved seats even when they had expressed interest in running for general seats (ibid: 5-6).

The reserved seats system was first introduced in 1972 in the Constitution, originally providing 15 reserved seats for women out of the then 315 parliamentary seats during a period of 10 years. In 1978, a presidential proclamation enlarged the number of reserved seats to 30 and extended the period of reservation to 15 years from the date of promulgation of the 1972 Constitution. The constitutional provision lapsed in 1987 but was re-incorporated in the Constitution by an amendment in 1990 to be effective for 10 years from the first meeting of the legislature next elected. This provision expired in 2001, and the Parliament elected in October 2001 did not have reserved seats for women. In 2004, a Constitutional amendment was passed to reintroduce quotas for women in Parliament. The current number of seats reserved for women is 50 (Article 65).

According to Representation of the People (Amendment) Order Act 2009, ‘any political party desiring to be registered with the Commission shall have the following specific provisions in its constitution, namely: (ii) to fix the goal of reserving at least 33 per cent of all committee positions for women including the central committee and successively achieving this goal by the year 2020’. (Chapter VIA, 90B [b]).

Article 9 of the Fundamental Principles of State Policy of the Constitution of Bangladesh stipulates the representation of women in local government institutions. Bangladesh’s urban local government has two tiers: purshavas (municipal bodies) with the provision of a quota for at least three women members to be elected by commissioners of the purshava; and city corporations (Rai 2005). Rural local councils exist in three tiers: 61 zila (district) parishads, 469 upazila (subdistrict) parishads, and 4484 union and village parishads. Under a 1996 law, at least 25 per cent of seats were reserved for women in union parishads through direct election. The first election under the new provision was held in 1997, in which a total of 13 000 women candidates were elected to fill the reserved seats for women (Rai 2005).


Legal Sources:

  • Constitution of Bangladesh - Link
  • The Representation of the People Order - Link
  • The Political Parties Ordinance - Link
  • National Assembly (Reserved Seats for Women) Election Act (amended through 2023) - Link

Other Sources:

Additional reading

  • See the latest updates on Bangladesh on iKNOW Politics
  • Bangladesh Election Commission,
  • Bangladesh Parliament website,
  • Frankl, E. 2004. ‘Quota as Empowerment. The Use of Reserved Seats in Union Parishad as an Instrument for Women’s Political Empowerment in Bangladesh’, The Research Program on Gender Quotas . Working Paper Series 2004: 3, Stockholm University: Department of Political Science.
  • Ahmed, K.U. ‘Women and Politics in Bangladesh’, paper prepared for the International Conference on Women and Politics in Asia, Halmstad, June 2003.
  • Aminuzzaman, S.M. ‘Strengthening the UP: Problems and Prospects’, paper presented in a workshop on Local Government and Reforms: Issues and Prospects, Dhaka, April 2003.
  • Chowdhury, N. 2003. ‘Bangladesh’s Experience – Dependence and Marginality in Politics’, in International IDEA The Implementation of Quotas: Asian Experiences Quota Workshop Report Series no. 1, Stockholm: International IDEA, pp. 50–8.
  • Mahtab, N. ‘Women in Urban Local Governance: A Bangladesh Case Study’, paper presented at the International conference on Women’s Quotas in Urban Local Governance: A Cross-national Comparison. New Delhi, February 2003.
  • Thörlind, R. 2003. Development, Decentralization and Democracy. Exploring Social Capital and Politicization in the Bengal Region, Dhaka: Pathak Shamabesh Book.
  • Chowdhury, Najma. 2002. ‘The Implementation of Quotas: Bangladesh Experience - Dependence and Marginality in Politics.’ Paper presented at IDEA's regional workshop on the Implementation of Quotas: Asian Experiences. Jakarta, Indonesia.
  • Democracywatch 2002. Assessing Training Program for the Female Members of the UP, Dhaka: Democracywatch.
  • Siddiqui, T. ‘Effective Participation of Women and Strengthening of Local Government in Bangladesh’, paper presented at the seminar: Good Governance and Local Government: Changes and Challenges, Dhaka, December 2002.
  • Chowdhury, Najma. 2001. ‘The Politics of Implementing Women's Rights in Bangladesh.’ Jane H. Bayes & Neyereh Tohidi (eds.). Globalization, Gender, and Religion: The Politics of Women's Rights in Catholic and Muslim Countries. New York: Palgrave.
  • Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. 2000. Women in Asia and the Pacific: High-level Intergovernmental Meeting to Review Regional Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. 26-29 October 1999: Proceedings. New York: United Nations.
  • World Food Programme 1999. Elected Woman Members of UP. A Socio-Economic Study, Dhaka: World Food Programme.
  • Nathan, I. 1998. When Poor People Participate. A Case Study of a Local Government election in a Locality of Rural Bangladesh, Aarhus: Politica.
  • Goetz, A. 1996. ‘Dis/organizing gender: women development agents in the state and NGO poverty – reduction programmes in Bangladesh’, in S.M. Rai (ed.) Women and the State: International Perspectives, London: Taylor and Francis, pp. 118–42.
  • Nelson, B. & N. Chowdhury (ed.). 1994.  Women and Politics Worldwide. New Haven & London: Yale University Press.
  • Kabeer, N. 1988. ‘Subordination and struggle: Women in Bangladesh’, New Left Review, 168: 95–121.

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