NEW DELHI, Mar. 12, 2010 - A ground-breaking 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.
To download a copy of the paper please use this link
ICRW is a leading international research organization that works to empower women, advance gender equality and fight poverty in the developing world. To accomplish this, ICRW works with partners in the public and private sectors and civil society to conduct empirical research, build capacity and advocate for evidence-based practical ways to change policies and programs.
ICRW has a Regional Asia Office in New Delhi, India, and project offices in Hyderabad and
Mumbai in India. Learn more about ICRW and its work at www.icrw.org