The Indian Parliament has taken a substantial step toward gender equity as the Lok Sabha, parliament's lower house, passed the Women's Reservation Bill, which sets aside 33% of the seats in the lower house and state assemblies for women.
The bill was introduced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government and was passed 454 to 2.
It now needs to be passed by the Rajya Sabha, parliament's upper house, as well as half of India's 28 state legislatures, which is considered likely.
If passed, the measure will not be implemented in time for the 2024 elections. But it will be in place for the elections in 2029, after India's census is completed, which was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Amit Shah, minister of home affairs.
According to Shah, four attempts have been made by three Indian governments to enact similar legislation but were unsuccessful.
The legislation allows for only women to contest 33% of the parliament's lower house seats for 15 years with the ability for it to be extended by parliament.
Prior to the bill, Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party had committed to nominating women to 33% of the seats in the upcoming 2024 election.
Women currently have 15.1% representation in parliament, despite making up 48% of India's population. The international average for parliamentary representation of women is 24%, according to Arjun Ram Meghwal, India's law and justice minister.
Some information for this story came from The Associated Press and Reuters.