NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved a proposal to increase reservation for women to 50 per cent in panchayats. The proposal, listed for consideration at the Cabinet meeting on Thursday, was approved, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told reporters.

The proposal aims at amending Article 243(d) of the Constitution, which provides for one-third reservation for women in panchayats, and increase the quota to 50 per cent. President Pratibha Patil, in her address to the joint sitting of Parliament on June 4, had said a Constitutional amendment would be brought in to provide 50 per cent quota for women in panchayats and urban local bodies. She had said since women suffer multiple deprivations of class, caste and gender, enhancing reservation in panchayats and urban local bodies would lead to more women entering the public sphere.

The BJP/NDA ruled States like Bihar, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh took the lead and had already implemented 50 per cent reservation for women in panchayati raj institutions. While Rajasthan has announced implementation of the proposal in the next panchayat election in 2010, Kerala has declared that it would implement it.

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