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Nine out of ten parliamentarians in India are men. Such dismal figures reveal the lasting grip of unfavourable social norms. Six decades have gone by since India’s Independence brought hopes that democracy would make gender representation more equal. Since the 1990s, reservation has opened up access to local bodies for women. Major parties have since championed a Bill that would extend reservations to the Lok Sabha, and the state legislative assemblies; the proposed law even made it through the Rajya Sabha. This paper explains why, after two decades of delay, it is time to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill.

The paper provides a breakdown of the Bill alongside charts and graphs representing quotas for Indian women. It provides evidence from both the local level and from other countries to challenge the most frequent criticisms of the Bill, and to addresses some of the foreseeable roadblocks in its implementation.

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