Gender Quotas Database

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India (Republic of India)

India (Republic of India) has a Bicameral parliament with legislated quotas at the sub-national level. 78 of 542 (14%) seats in the Lok Sabha / House of the People are held by women.

At a glance

Structure of Parliament: Bicameral

Are there legislated quotas...

  • For the Single/Lower House? No
  • 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

Last updated: Jul 5, 2019

Single/Lower House

Lok Sabha / House of the People

Total seats 542
Total Women 78
% Women 14%
Election Year 2019
Electoral System FPTP
Quota Type No legislated
Election details IDEA Voter Turnout - IPU Parline

Quota at the Sub-National Level

  • Quota type: Reserved seats
  Legal source Details
Quota type: Reserved seats Constitution The constitution guarantees the reservation of not less than 33% of the total number of seats to be filled by direct elections in local government bodies in villages and municipalities for women. In addition, within seats reserved in every village council (panchayat) or municipality council for scheduled castes and tribes (the percentage to be proportional to the population of such groups in the respective territory) not less than 33% shall be reserved for women belonging to these groups. At least 33% of the offices of chairpersons of councils is also reserved for women. Reserved seats are allotted to different territorial constituencies on a rotational basis. The constitution further stipulates that ‘the offices of the chairpersons in panchayats, municipal councils and at any other level shall be reserved for castes, tribes and women in such manner as the legislature of a State may, by law, provide’ (Constitution, Article 243D (2), (3) and (4) and 243t).
Electoral law Among India’s 28 states, a number provide for reserved seats ranging from 33% to 50% of the total seats in local government councils, both in panchayat and municipality levels. States with 50% reserved seats in panchayats and municipalities include Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra and Tripura, while other states (including Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, and West Bengal) have 50% reserved seats for women only for panchayats.
Legal sanctions for non-compliance N/A Not applicable
Rank order/placement rules Constitution Reservation of wards (territorial constituencies) within territorial areas of local councils is allotted to different wards on a rotational basis.

Additional Information

India is a federation with local, state and federal levels of governance. The Federal Constitution of India provides the system of minimum 33 per cent reserved seats for women in directly-elected local councils of various types, including villages, blocks and districts. The Constitution provides the right of every state to determine the amount of reserved seats in each local council above the required minimum of 33 per cent. Various states reserve different percentages of seats at the panchayat and municipal levels, while several have provided for up to 50 per cent reserved seats for women at both levels. The selection of wards (the lowest-level units which elect village panchayats or municipal councils) to be reserved for women in each election is performed randomly, through lots, and is conducted at the level of the state government which is responsible for elections of local self-governance bodies in the federal system. Lots are drawn in advance of the election date to determine the list of wards. Wards reserved for women rotate at every election. While this ensures that the effect of the reservation is spread broadly across different wards, the system has been criticized for its negative effect on continuity for women representatives (Rai 2005: 176).

Since the early 1990s the Women’s Reservation Bill has been discussed repeatedly with various reformulations, but has not been adopted by parliament’s lower house (the Lok Sabha or ‘House of the People’). Two initial bills, tabled in 1996 and 1998, respectively, aimed at reforming the Constitution to introduce the system of reserved seats for the parliament but expired at the end of the respective parliaments. In 1999 a third bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha but was also unsuccessful.

Another attempt was made by tabling the Constitution Bill of 2008 with the purpose of reserving at least one-third of the total number of seats in the Lok Sabha and in the state legislative assemblies for women, and reserving not less than one-third of seats for women within the seats reserved for scheduled castes and tribes. Under this bill, widely known as the Women’s Reservation Bill, reserved seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in the state or union territory, as determined by law. The reservation of seats for women shall cease to exist or expire after 15 years of the commencement of the proposed Amendment Act. The bill was approved by the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) on 9 March 2010. However, in order for it to enter into force, it must also be approved by a two-thirds majority in the Lok Sabha.

Additional reading

  • Sundstrm, Aksel. 2008. Leaving the ‘proxy woman or politician’ dichotomy: A qualitative study of the possibilities and obstacles for elected womens participation in Indian local governance. Department of Policital Science, University of Gothenburg
  • Raman, V. 2004. Globalisation, Sustainable Development and Local Self-Government. Challenges of the 21st Century: The India Experience, New Delhi: Center for Women’s Development Studies.
  • Sharma, K. 2004. ‘From Representation to Presence: the paradox of power and powerlessness of women In PRIs’, in D. Bandyopadhyay and A. Mukherjee (ed.) New Issues in Panchayati Raj, New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company, pp. 48–66.
  • Baviskar, B.S. ‘Impact of Women’s Participation in Local Governance in Rural India’, paper presented at the Rural Network Conference, Inverness, June 2003. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/270588922_Impact_of_Women's_Participation_in_Local_Governance_in_Rural_India
  • Ekatra. 2003. Women and Governance Reimagining the State, New Delhi: Ekatra.
  • Ghosh, A. 2003. ‘Women’s Reservation in Urban Local Bodies: A Perspective from Chennai Municipal Corporation Election, 2001’, Indian Journal of Gender Studies, 10, 1: 117–41.
  • Jayal, N. and Nussbaum, M. 2003. Gender and Governance An Introduction, Human Development Resource Centre, New Delhi: UNDP.
  • Mohanty, B. ‘Women’s Presence in Panchayats (Village Councils) in India: A New Challenge to Patriarchy’, paper presented at the International Conference on Women and Politics in Asia, Halmstad, June 2003.
  • Mohanty, M. and Seldon, M. 2003. ‘Reconceptualising Local Democracy Preliminary reflections on democracy, power and Resistence’, Panchayati Raj Update, 10(4), New Delhi: Institute of Social Sciences.
  • Panchayati Raj Update 2003. ‘Fact File Bihar Panchayat Election 2001’, 10(2) New Delhi: Institute of Social Sciences.
  • Raman, V. 2003. ‘The implementation of Quotas for Women: The Indian Experience’, in International IDEA The Implementation of Quotas: Asian Experiences, Quota Workshop Report Series no. 1, Stockholm: International IDEA, pp. 22–32.
  • Sharma, A. ‘Women’s Political Participation and Leadership in the Governance of Municipal Institutions in an Indian State’, paper presented at the International Conference on Women and Politics in Asia, Halmstad, June 2003.
  • Keating, Christine. 2002. ‘The Women's Reservation Bill: Disrupting the Postcolonial Sexual Contract.’ Paper presented at The Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association. Boston, MA, August 28-September 2.
  • Mathew, G. 2002. ‘Ten Years on’, The Hindu, 27 December.
  • Raman, Vasanthi. 2002. ‘The Implementation of Quotas for Women: The Indian Experience.’ IDEA, Regional Workshop on the Implementation of Quotas: Asian Experiences. Jakarta, Indonesia, September 2002.
  • Buch, N. 2001. ‘The 73rd Constitution Amendment and the Experience of Women in the New Panchayati Rai Institutions (PRIs): A Critical Evaluation’, in A. Pinto and H. Reifeld (eds) Women in Panchayati Raj, New Delhi: Indian Social Institute.
  • Raman, Vasanthi. 2001. ‘The Women's Question in Contemporary Indian Politics.’ Asian Journal of Women's Studies 7, no. 2. pp. 39.
  • Buch, N. 2000a. ‘Women’s Experience in New Panchayats: The emerging leadership of rural women’, Occasional Paper 35, Delhi: Centre for Women’s Development Studies.
  • Buch, N. 2000b. ‘Panchayats and Women’, in G. Mathew (ed.) Status of Panchayati Rai in the States and Union Terriotories of India, New Delhi: Concept.
  • Dalal, Mukesh. 2000. ‘Women's Reservation: Another Approach.’ Manushi, September: 28.
  • 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.
  • John, M.E. 2000. ‘Alternate Modernities? Reservations and Women’s movement in 20th Century’, India Economic and Political Weekly, 35, 43, 44: 3822
  • Menon, Nivedita. 2000. ‘Elusive ‘Woman': Feminism and Women's Reservation Bill.’ Economic and Political Weekly. October 28, 2000. pp. 3835-3844.
  • Rai, S.M. and Sharma, K. 2000. ‘Democratising the Indian Parliament: the ‘Reservation for Women' Debate.’ In Shirin M. Rai (ed.). International Perspectives on Gender and Democratisation. New York: St. Martin's Press, Basingstoke: Macmillan. pp. 149-165.
  • Sinha, Niroj, (ed.) 2000. Women in Indian Politics: Empowerment of Women through Political Participation. New Delhi: Gyan Publishing House.
  • Jenkins, Laura Dudley. 1999. ‘Competing Inequalities: The Struggle Over Reserved Seats for Women in India.’ International Review of Social History. 44: 53-75. (supplement 7, Complicating Categories: Gender, Class, Race and Ethnicity, Eileen Boris and Angelique Janssens (eds.)
  • John, Mary E. 1999. ‘Democracy, Patriarchies and Reservations for Women: A Note.’ Indian Journal of Gender Studies 6. No. 1. January-June.
  • Kishwar, Madhu. 1999. Off the Beaten Track: Rethinking Gender Justice for Indian Women. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
  • Mohanty, B. 1999. ‘Panchayat Raj Institutions and Women’, in B. Ray and A. Basu (eds) From Independence Towards Freedom, Indian Women since 1947, New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
  • Rai, Shirin M. 1999. ‘Democratic Institutions, Political Representation and Women's Empowerment: The Quota Debate in India.’ Democratization. 6. No. 3, pp. 84-99.
  • Raman, Vasanthi. 1999. ‘Women's Reservation and Democratisation: An Alternative Perspective.’ Economic and Political Weekly. December 11, 1999. Bombay. pp. 3494-3495,
  • Sarkar, L. & Majumdar, V. 1999. ‘Note of Dissent’. Indian Journal of Gender Studies. Vol. 6, No 1, January-June.
  • Datta, B. (ed.) 1998. And Who Will Make the Chapatis? A Study of All-Women Panchayats in Maharashtra, Calcutta: Stree.
  • Hoskyns, C. and Rai, S.M. 1998. ‘Gender, Class and Representation: India and the European Union’, European Journal of Women’s Studies, 5, 3–4: 345–65.
  • Kasturi, Leela. 1998. ‘Greater Political Representation for Women: The Case of India.’ Asian Journal of Women's Studies. 4. No. 4: 9.
  • Kidwai, Sabina and Abhilasha Kumari. 1998. Crossing the Sacred Line: Women's Search for Political Power. London: Sangam Books.
  • Kishwar, Madhu. 1998. ‘Women's Reservation Bill is a Setback to Feminists.’ IndiaAbroad. July 31.
  • Mitra, Sumit and Javed Ansari. 1998. ‘Women's Bill: Ladies Seat.’ The Nation. July 20.
  • Nanivadekar, Medha. 1998. ‘Reservation for Women.’ Economic and Political Weekly. July 11.
  • Raj, R. Dev. 1998. ‘Politics-Group: Women Help Themselves to Political Pie.’ Interpress Service. January 25.
  • Haniffa, Aziz. 1997. ‘Women's Quota Called Victim of a “Male Plot”‘, IndiaAbroad. January 24.
  • Kannabiran, Vasanth and Kalpana Kannabiran. 1997. ‘From Social Action to Political Action: Women and the 81st Amendment.’ Economic and Political Weekly. February 1.
  • Misra, Neelesh. 1997. ‘Gujral inducts four Women in Expansion of Ministry.’ India Abroad, June 13.
  • Muralidharan, Sukumar. 1997. ‘A Bill in Vain.’ Frontline. January 10.
  • Nanivadekar, M. 1997a. Electoral Process in Corporation Elections: A Gender Study, Mumbai: Bharatiya Stree Shakti.
  • Nanivadekar, Medha. 1997. Empowering Women: Assessing the Policy of Reservations in Local Bodies. A Report. Mumbai:Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini, Publications no. 31.
  • Rai, S.M. 1997. ‘Gender and Representation: Women MPs in the Indian Parliament’, in A. Goetz (ed.) Getting Institutions Right for Women in Development, London: Zed.
  • Yadav, Ritu. 1997. ‘More Than Just A Token.’ News India. May 15.
  • Everett, Jana. 1996. ‘Reservation of Seats for Women in India: Toward the Engendering of Politics?’ Paper presented at The Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association. San Francisco, August 29-September 1.
  • Gandhi, Maneka. 1996. ‘And the One Who Differs… Maneka Gandhi on Women in Politics.’ Manushi. no. 96: 19.
  • Kaushik, Susheela. 1996. Panchayati Raj in Action: Challenges to Women's Role. New Delhi: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.
  • Kishwar, Madhu. 1996a. ‘Out of the Zenna Dabba: Strategies for Enhancing Women's Political Representation.’ Manushi. No. 96: 22.
  • Kishwar, Madhu. 1996b. ‘Women and Politics: Beyond Quotas.’ Economic and Political Weekly. 31, no. 43. pp. 2867-2874.
  • Nath, Meenakshi. 1996. ‘Cutting Across Party Line: Women Members of Parliament Explain their Stand on Reservation Quotas.’ Manushi, no. 96, p. 15.
  • Rai, Shirin M. ‘Gender and Representation: Women in the Indian Parliament, 1991-1996.’ A. M. Goetz (ed). Getting Institutions Right for Women in Development. London: Sage.
  • Baxi, U. 1995. ‘Emancipation as Justice: Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Legacy and Vision’, in U. Baxi and B. Parekh (eds) Crisis and Change in Contemporary India, London: Sage, pp. 122–47.
  • Chatterjee, P. 1993. ‘The Nationalist Resolution of the Women’s Question’, in K. Sangari and S. Vaid (eds) Recasting Women, Essays in Colonial History, New Dehli: Kali for Women.
  • d'Lima, Hazel. 1993. ‘Participation of Women in Local Self-Government.’ In Susheela Kaushik (ed.). Women's Participation in Politics. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House. pp. 21-30.
  • Gawankar, Rohini. 1993. ‘Role of Women in Panchayati Raj.’ in . Susheela Kaushik (ed.). Women's Participation in Politics. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House. pp. 88-100.
  • Patel, Sujata. 1993. ‘Women's Participation in the Anti-Reservation Agitation in Ahmedabad, 1985: Some Issues.’ In Susheela Kaushik (ed.). Women's Participation in Politics. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House. pp. 148-155.
  • Rajput, Pam. 1993. ‘Women Leadership at the Grassroot Level in Punjab.’ Susheela Kaushik (ed.). Women's Participation in Politics. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House. pp. 31-44.
  • Sankaran, Kamala. 1993. Women in Politics: Forms and Processes. New Delhi: Har-Anand Publications.
  • Manikyamba, P. 1989. Women in Panchayati Raj Structures. New Delhi: Gian Publishing House.
  • Sarkar, S. 1983. Modern India, 1885–1947, Delhi: Macmillan India Ltd.
  • ‘Furore in Lok Sabha over Women's Quota Bill.’ The Hindu. April 15.
  • India Parliament website, http://parliamentofindia.nic.in/
  • ‘Prime Minister Moots Special Facilities, Reservation for Women.’ The Hindu, March 9.

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