No development on women’s quota bill, only discussions: NCW chief

New Delhi, Sep 12 (IANS) Two decades after the introduction of the Women Reservation Bill in parliament, only discussions are happening and there is no visible possibility of it becoming a law, lamented National Commission for Women chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam.

“It’s been twenty years and we are still just discussing the bill. Do you think there is a possibility in the future?” she asked at a seminar titled ‘Two Decades of Women’s Reservation Bill’, organised by National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) here on Monday.

The Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, 2008, seeks to reserve one-third of all seats for women in Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies.

Stressing the huge need of bringing the measure, historian Mridula Mukherjee said: “Reservation Bill is very important as women are worst sufferers during any crisis and it requires a battle against ideology and not men.”

Emphasising on the capability and interest of Indian women in politics, she said: “There is a lack of opportunities that we have to fight for and transformation of men is the ultimate objective.”

According to Kumaramangalam, “many women themselves oppose the bill alongside men. I have come across more number of women opposing it than men”.

“It is a women issue regardless of caste, class or religion. A lot of women organisations have been running movements but are not preparing to get together and demand it.

“Somewhere, we women are not given the equal status. From my side, we’ve already pushed for women reservation. Despite several governments having been in power all these years, we haven’t been able to push the bill through,” she added.

Women’s rights activist Syeda Hameed feels that without the participation of women, “democracy has no meaning”.

Senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar meanwhile opined that, within the reservation of women, there should be a reservation of the deprived section and the bill that has been passed in just one of the two houses, needs proper surveys to find a solution.

“… in panchayats and municipalities, reservations have found success but in past two decades that have seen different parties in power, there hasn’t been a solution to get it in Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies,” he said.

“To get one-third of women in, we will have to remove one third of men,” he said, adding: “They cannot be removed because they’re men and there has to be a reason like involvement in corruption.”

Outgoing JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar questioned the country’s two major parties whose representatives were there to support the bill, saying, “Why don’t BJP and Congress introduce the reservation of women in their respective parties?”

Referring to his mother and her struggles with patriarchy and the institutions, he claimed that “if the feminist movement doesn’t reach the villages in India, nothing will change. There is a huge need of social consciousness among people to make them understand the need to fight against injustice”.

–IANS

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