Nagaland nod for 33% quota for women in urban local bodies
The Nagaland Assembly unanimously passed a Bill on Thursday requesting that 33% of seats in urban local bodies (ULB) be reserved for women, addressing a thorny issue and clearing the way for municipal elections in the State after two decades.
Which bill was passed to increase women’s empowerment in the ULB?
- Nagaland Assembly Decision: On Thursday, the Nagaland Assembly passed a critical Bill. The Bill aims to give women 33% of the seats in urban local bodies (ULBs).
- Resolution of a Controversial Problem: This ruling settles a thorny problem that has hampered municipal elections in the state for the past two decades.
- Compliance with Supreme Court Directive: The Supreme Court-mandated 33% reservation for women in ULBs is incorporated in the Bill.
What is the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act?
- The Urban Local Governments system, often known as Municipalities, was formed as a constitutional institution by the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1992. The Act establishes a framework for the delegation of obligations and duties to municipal authorities at various levels of government. It also authorized the State Legislature to establish laws to vest Local Bodies with the rights and authority required for them to function as self-governing organizations.
- The Act took effect on June 1, 1993. Part IX A (the Municipalities) was introduced, which deals with municipal affairs. The Act gave Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) constitutional status.
- The Act also provides an obligatory provision for women’s seat reservations.
- At least one-third of all positions in the local bodies are reserved for women.
- This includes seats reserved for women belonging to SC/ST, The reservations apply for direct elections only.
What is the reason behind the delay in the bill being passed?
- Traditional Opposition: Many traditional tribal and urban organizations in Nagaland were opposed to the 33% reservation of seats for women. This objection stems from cultural and traditional views, with some claiming that it violates customary norms.
- Concerns regarding the Constitution: Article 371A of the Constitution grants unique provisions to Nagaland, prohibiting Parliament from passing laws concerning religion or social customs, traditional laws, land ownership, and so on without the approval of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly. Some saw the reserve for women as potentially in violation of these constitutional principles.
- Historical Disputes: Disputes and protests have characterized Nagaland’s civic body elections. The change in 2006 to incorporate 33% reservation sparked strong resistance, resulting in the postponement of ULB elections indefinitely in 2009. Attempts to hold elections in 2012 were met with considerable opposition, and additional developments, such as the nullification of the election process in 2017, added to the lengthy wait.
- Resistance from Tribal Bodies: Apex tribal bodies such as the Naga Hoho initially opposed the reservation, claiming that women have always been excluded from decision-making bodies. These bodies’ acceptance of such rules appears to have been a gradual process.
- Boycott Threats and Demands: Tribal bodies and civil society organizations have threatened to boycott polls until the Municipal Act of 2001, which includes provisions for women’s reservation, is reviewed and amended to reflect Naga’s opinions. This demand, as well as the prospect of a boycott, most likely added to the process’s complexity and length.
- Amendments and Reversals: The Municipal Act amendments, exemptions from constitutional provisions, and later reversals reflect a dynamic and complicated legislative landscape, which contributes to delays in establishing a consensus.
What are the benefits of giving 33% reservation for the women in ULB?
- Equality and Empowerment of Women:
- Representation: Reservation ensures that women are represented in decision-making bodies in a more balanced manner, correcting historical gender inequities in political and civic governance.
- Increased involvement strengthens women by giving them chances to actively participate in local governance and policy-making.
- Making Decisions Together:
- Diverse Perspectives: Women frequently bring distinct perspectives and interests to governance, enriching decision-making with a greater spectrum of opinions.
- Inclusive policies ensure that policies and activities are more representative of the interests and concerns of the entire population.
- Social Development :Women in government may prioritize social issues such as healthcare, education, and welfare, resulting in more complete and inclusive development plans.
- Community Development: Women, as representatives, may be more sensitive to local needs and priorities, contributing to the overall development of communities at the grassroots level.
- Inspiration for Future Leaders: Role Modeling Increased representation sets a significant example for future generations, encouraging more women to participate in civic and political life.
Understanding the reasons for the delay entails traversing a complex mix of cultural, constitutional, and historical elements that have moulded the discourse in Nagaland’s urban local bodies over women’s reservations. The bill’s recent unanimous passage marks a shift in the landscape, with tribal bodies’ acceptance and the potential resolution of long-standing concerns.