The Bold Voice of J&K

Empowering women

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The 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament has been a demand which has remained on air for over three decades. And now BJP leader and Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu asserted that Bill would be introduced in Rajya Sabha once BJP has the majority in the House. The Bill on 33 per cent reservation of seats for women in the Lok Sabha was introduced in December 1998; it had been prevented from being introduced on three different occasions: once, during Prime Minister Deve Gowda’s time (1996), again during Prime Minister I. K Gujral’s time (1997), and once again, during Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s time (1998). At one stage (during I.K Gujral’s regime), the Bill was submitted to Gita Mukherjee Committee which in its report, submitted in November 1996, recommended one-third reservation for women. Recognising the vital role of legislators especially women in strengthening the processes of governance towards building a Resurgent India, India has made notable progress in social and economic development but when it comes to statistics, India stands at the 109th place among 193 countries regarding women’s representation with just 12 per cent women in Parliament. The global average for women in national parliaments is 22.7 per cent. Just nine per cent women were given tickets to contest from the six national political parties. Every year Women’s Day is observed and speaker after speaker talks of women empowerment for a vibrant society. Since 1998 the Bill seeking 33 per cent reservation for woman was taken up but till date no change has taken place. One or two Panchayats may have been able to bring few women elected as Sarpanchs but the basic mentality of male dominated society has not changed much and acceptance of women as a leading agent is quite disturbing. On the other hand in Nordic countries women have 40 per cent representation in national legislatures, while the world average was at 22.7 per cent. Our Parliament’s gender profile is woefully unbalanced with women constituting only 12 per cent of the membership. Even the 2014 Parliamentary elections there were only 145 women candidates against total 1,591 candidates and the gender profile in legislature and Parliament panels on important issues remained woefully imbalanced. There is need for political parties to open up more space for women and not just issuing blank promises.

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