NEW DELHI (Reuters) – The Indian government on Monday cleared a bill that guarantees the reservation of 33% seats for women in India’s lower house of parliament and state legislative assemblies, according to four local TV news channels.

The Women’s Reservation Bill was approved by the cabinet in New Delhi and will be tabled during the current special session of parliament called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, India Today and NDTV newschannels reported.

Government officials and ministers who attended the cabinet meeting, which was led by Modi, were not immediately available to confirm or deny the approval of the bill that was first introduced in 1996.

Women account for almost half of India’s 950 million registered voters but make for only 15% of parliament and about 10% of state legislatures, pushing the world’s largest democracy to the bottom of global rankings on gender parity in legislatures.

Successive governments have sought to address this since the mid-1990s by trying to make a law that blocks a third of seats for women at the national and state levels.

(Reporting by Rupam Jain, Nigam Prusty, Editing by William Maclean)

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