In a historic move, the Maharashtra legislative assembly on Wednesday passed the women’s reservation bill, giving them a 50% quota in local self-government bodies.
This means women will get equal representation along with men in civic bodies such as the Mumbai and Thane municipal corporations, zilla parishads, panchayat samitis and gram panchayats.
Maharashtra was the first state to introduce 33% reservation for women in local bodies in 1993.
The bill will become a law when the Upper House passes it before the budget session of the state legislature ends on April 21. Once that is done, the quota will be immediately applicable in ten civic polls, including the polls in Mumbai and Thane, scheduled to be held early next year.
Rural development minister Jayant Patil had presented the bill in the Assembly on Monday night. Debate resumed late Wednesday evening, with most women members of the House taking part in it.
The women members welcomed the law but said the government should facilitate entry of underprivileged women into politics by providing them training. They hoped that women would get a 33% quota in legislature and Parliament. The law to reserve 33% seats in legislature and Parliament is yet to be cleared.
Patil had on Monday said that the bill would bring women on a par with their male counterparts in the decision-making process at the grassroots level.
He had said that the move was a milestone in the state’s history.