In an important development towards gender equality and women’s empowerment, the Madhya Pradesh government has announced a groundbreaking policy to reserve 35% of all state government job positions for women, excluding the Forest Department. This progressive amendment to the Madhya Pradesh Civil Services (Special Provision for Appointment of Women) Rules, 1997, comes just ahead of the upcoming state assembly elections.
The notification states, “Notwithstanding anything contained in any service rules, there shall be reserved 35% of all posts in the service under the state (except Forest Department) in favor of women at the stage of direct recruitment, and the said reservation shall be horizontal and compartment-wise.” This announcement is significant not only for its commitment to gender equality but also for introducing the concepts of “horizontal” and “compartment-wise” reservations.
Horizontal reservation is a concept aimed at providing equal opportunities to various categories of beneficiaries, such as women, veterans, the transgender community, and individuals with disabilities, across different segments or compartments of government job positions. It ensures that these categories have a fair and equitable chance to secure employment, cutting through the vertical categories. This approach aligns with the constitutional principle of equal opportunity and is exemplified by Article 15(3) of the Constitution.
“Compartment-wise” refers to a strategy that divides or categorizes different aspects or components of the program into separate compartments or segments. Each compartment may have its own set of rules, objectives, or criteria. In the case of Madhya Pradesh’s new policy, “compartment-wise” reservation means that the 35% quota for women will be applied in a manner that considers different departments or sectors separately, ensuring that women have access to a diverse range of government job opportunities.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan unveiled this historic decision, announcing that 35% of job vacancies in the police force and other government positions will be exclusively reserved for women. Additionally, an impressive 50% of teaching positions will be reserved for women, emphasizing the government’s commitment to gender balance and women’s empowerment in the education sector.
In a parallel effort, Chief Minister Chouhan accelerated the transfer of financial assistance to beneficiaries under the “Ladli Bahna Yojana,” a flagship welfare program for women. Under this scheme, eligible beneficiaries receive ₹1,250 per month from the state government. Recognizing the upcoming assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh and the significant influence of women voters, Chouhan stated, “I transfer the amount on the 10th (of every month), but I am transferring it in the accounts tomorrow (Wednesday) itself because elections will be announced, and we cannot do this during the time of polls due to the imposition of the model code of conduct.”
These progressive measures are introduced against the backdrop of imminent assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, expected to be held by the year-end. With a focus on creating more inclusive and equitable representation of women in the state’s government workforce, Madhya Pradesh is advancing the cause of gender equality and empowerment.
This decision also closely follows the passage of the ‘Women’s Reservation Bill’ in Parliament, which received the assent of President Droupadi Murmu. The ‘Nari Shakti Vandan Adhniyam,’ mandating 33% reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies, was unanimously passed, marking it as the first bill enacted in the new Parliament building.
As Madhya Pradesh prepares to elect legislators from its 230 assembly constituencies, these progressive measures serve as a testament to the state’s commitment to ensuring equal opportunities and representation for women in government employment, setting a significant precedent for gender equality in India.