More than 15 years before it made it to Parliament, 33 per cent reservation for women was introduced in Maharashtra.
The state laid the foundation for women’s reservation in India in 1994 when it decided to reserve 33 per cent seats for women in the Panchayati Raj.
The state introduced reservation for women in urban and rural local self-government bodies as part of its women’s policy. One-third of the seats in gram panchayats, panchayat samitis [tehsil level], zilla parishad [district governing bodies] and municipal bodies were reserved for women.
The reservation was imposed on wards and rotated every five years. Since then, in every village, women have had 33 per cent representation in local governance and dozens of women have become mayors or presidents of municipal bodies.
Even Mumbai has had two women mayors since 2007 — first it was Shubha Raul and now, Shraddha Jadhav.
“It is only in a country like India that this is possible,” said state’s Additional Chief Secretary (Home), Chandra Iyengar, who was part of the team that drafted the policy.
Shaina N.C., spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party said through the Bill, the Indian government will set an example for democracies across the world. “The move will automatically get parties to organise and encourage women workers and see to their representation at different levels of governance,” Shaina said.
“The Bill, introduced in Maharashtra years ago, has helped more women participate at the panchayat level making a significant change in the basic fabric of villages.”