India Enacts Gender Quotas for Parliament

Press Release Subtitle

ICRW Applauds Groundbreaking Legislation

Press Release Author

Jeannie Bunton, 202.742.1316, [email protected]

NEW DELHI – A groundbreaking law that would allow a third of India’s 545-seat lower house and 248-seat upper house to be reserved for women was passed March 9 in the upper house. In response to this historic vote, the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) issued the following statement from Priya Nanda, group director of social and economic development, in ICRW’s New Delhi office:

“The Women’s Reservation Bill is a crucial first step in breaking down the barriers women face when it comes to political participation. It is an exciting moment for women in India to know that the long fight to gain access to positions of power may soon lead to eventual victory if the bill is signed into law,” Nanda said.

“The fact is that women’s empowerment requires breaking the mold. Quotas help bring about the necessary cycle of change and a shift in attitudes about what women can achieve. Our findings show that when innovations in social norms at the national level — such as gender quotas — are combined with support for greater political participation, they have a quicker, more powerful impact on transforming women’s lives. However, if there isn’t a deliberate effort to ensure that women are truly integrated into the political decision-making process, the law is danger of becoming nothing more than a symbolic gesture,” Nanda added.

Notes to editors:

1. Our research findings on the connection between innovation and women’s empowerment can be found in our “Innovation for Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality” paper. The paper attempts to answer the question: how and when do innovations create long-term, positive shifts in gender relations. 

Mission Statement:

ICRW’s mission is to empower women, advance gender equality and fight poverty in the developing world. To accomplish this, ICRW works with partners to conduct empirical research, build capacity and advocate for evidence-based, practical ways to change policies and programs.