Shaping History: An audience with Kavitha Kalvakuntla, to discuss the Women’s Reservation Bill and wider female inclusion in politics
India’s Women’s Reservation Bill now has the President’ assent. The new law provides 33 percent reservation for women in the lower house of Parliament, the Lok Sabha, and state assemblies.
According to Reuters, women occupy just 82 out of 550, or about 15% of seats in the lower house, and only 31 out of 250 seats, or 12%, in the Rajya Sabha. A 2015 Report on the Status of Women in India by the Ministry of Women and Child Development noted that women’s representation in parliament and state assemblies was dismal, especially in senior decision-making positions. India’s record has pushed it to the bottom of the global list on gender parity in legislatures. The country ranks 141 out of 185 in the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Gender Gap Report.
Quotas for women have already been successful at the local level after they were first introduced in 1993. Leading think tank the Observer Research Foundation reports that it led to a remarkable empowerment of women in local government, where they occupy around 44% of seats in local assemblies today.
Our Keynote Speaker Kavitha Kalvakuntla (Former Member of Parliament, India and prominent BRS Party Leader, Member of Legislative Council, Telangana) has emerged as a formidable force in championing the cause of gender equality through the Women’s Reservation Bill.
Kavitha’s pursuit of the Women’s Reservation Bill began during her tenure as a Member of Parliament in 2014, as the first women Member of Parliament from the newly formed Telangana state. She recognised the urgency and significance of the Bill, not just for her home state of Telangana but for the entire nation. The Telangana State Legislature unanimously passed a resolution on 14 June 2014, requesting the Union government to provide 33 percent reservations for women in legislatures. This historic move laid the foundation for what would become a defining mission for Kavitha.
Undeterred by the political complexities that often thwart such progressive legislations, MLC Kavitha continued her tireless efforts to pave the way for the tabling and passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill. One of her standout moments was a six-hour-long hunger strike at Jantar Mantar in Delhi earlier in 2023, a powerful symbolic gesture that resonated across the political spectrum.
The protest was aimed at demanding the introduction of the long-pending Women’s Reservation Bill in the forthcoming Budget session of Parliament. This demonstration witnessed the confluence of over 6,000 people and support from over 18 Opposition parties, who expressed solidarity with Ms. Kavitha’s cause. As the founder of Bharat Jagruthi, Kavitha convened a crucial round table discussion with civil society organisatons and leaders from 13 political parties, aiming to build a consensus on the Women’s Reservation Bill. This marked a significant step towards fostering unity on an historical important issue for political participation and representation in the world’s largest democracy. Through her efforts and appeal across the political spectrum, several parties which had not previously supported the Bill, how backed it.
The aim of this event is to create a space for dialogue to deepen the understanding of the challenges and potentialities encapsulated in the Women’s Reservation Bill and the broader framework of women’s political representation in India. The insights shared are expected to inspire reflections and potential collaborative actions for advancing gender inclusivity in the Indian political context.
When: 6pm onwards, Friday 6th October
Where: Central Hall Westminster, Storey’s Gate, London, SW1H 9NH
Who: 200+ Indian diaspora community leaders, gender equality advocates, policy experts, researchers and policy leaders from the UK
Book here: Via Eventbrite here.
Please note: We reserve the right to refuse entry if you fail to submit to or comply with our security checks, display inappropriate behaviour or deliberate disregard for the venue / organisers’ guidelines.