10 Mar 2010

Women MP quota bill passes in India upper house

9:08 am on 10 March 2010

Legislation that would reserve a third of all seats in India's parliament for women has cleared its first hurdle, with members of the country's upper house approving the measure.

All the main political parties voted in favour, but the bill's introduction on Monday led to uproar from opponents, resulting in the suspension of seven MPs on Tuesday.

India's prime minister, Manmohan Singh, described the bill as a joyous step forward and a momentous development in a long journey of empowering women.

At present there are 59 female MPs in the lower house of 545 members and 21 in the 248-seat upper house.

The legislation will pass to the lower house of parliament and state assemblies for consideration.

It would also require presidential consent to become law.