Interview: Political reservations for women are the best strategy for long-term change
Sustained improvement requires changing embedded norms. Evidence from panchayats shows that women’s quotas do this effectively, says economist Rohini Pande.
On Thursday, the Rajya Sabha passed the women’s reservation bill that will set aside 33% of the seats in the Lower House of Parliament and state assemblies for women representatives, the day after the Lok Sabha had done so.
The implementation of the law, though, will take several years. The bill states that the reservation can only be implemented after the delimitation of parliamentary constituencies, redrawing their boundaries based on the census data. There are other drawbacks as well, such as a growing demand for sub-quota within the one-third reservation for women representatives for members of the other backward classes.
But according to economist and scholar Rohini Pande, a policy to reserve seats for women will result in better outcomes for them in the long term. “The only way to make sustained improvements for women is to change deeply embedded norms about what work women are good at, both in the absolute, and relative to men,” Pande told Scroll in an interview. “It’s clear from the evidence we have that political reservation for women in legislatures can do that.”
Given how heavily the odds are stacked against women, Pande, in fact, says she would argue for 50% not just 33% reservation.
Pande is a professor of economics and Director...