Horizontal Reservation for Women – UPSC GS1

Context: The Bihar government announced 33% horizontal reservation for women in State engineering and medical colleges.
What is the vertical and horizontal reservation?
  • Vertical reservation: The reservation for Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) is referred to as the vertical reservation.
  • Horizontal reservation:
    • This refers to the equal opportunity provided to other categories of beneficiaries, such as women, veterans, the transgender community, and individuals with disabilities, cutting through the vertical categories.
    • The horizontal reservations do not add to the regular reservation limit. Instead, it will be distributed across all the vertical categories, including the non-reserved category.
    • For Instance, If an engineering college in Bihar has 100 reserved seats for STs, 33 of those seats (33% horizontal reservation) will have to be filled with ST women. So, the overall vertical reservation limit will be the same.
Note: Article 15(3) of the Constitution allows governments to make special provisions for women and children.
Why horizontal reservation of women has to be adopted?
This initiative should be welcomed and adopted across sectors, departments, and States for various benefits. Such as,
  • India’s female labour force participation (FLFP) rate is consistently declining and is worryingly low. World Bank data shows that the FLFP came down to 21% in 2019 from 31.79% in 2005.
  • Evidence points out that increasing women’s participation in the workforce to the level of men boosts the economy. In light of this, it is important for other governments to make more and more jobs available for women.
Other such role model initiatives by the Bihar government:
  • In 2006, Bihar became the first State to reserve 50% seats for women in Panchayati Raj institutions. This was later imitated by several other states such as Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Chhattisgarh.
  • In 2006, a scheme called the Mukhyamantri Balika Cycle Yojana was launched for Class 9 and 10 girl students. This was India’s first scaled-up conditional cash transfer programme for the secondary education of girls. The enrolment of girl students went up after this scheme.
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