Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Service (AMTS) chairman Chandraprakash Dave announced on International Women’s Day that 33 per cent of seats in every city bus will be reserved for women. While that’s yet to be translated into reality, in the here and now, not a single woman has found place in the eight-member municipal Transport Committee. This is the first time that the state government effected the 50 per cent reservation for women in urban local bodies. Thus, half of the 192 corporators representing the various wards of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) are women, but few have found place in the civic committees which propose works in their areas to be cleared by the standing committee.
While Dave said he had no hand in selecting members, AMC standing committee chairman Pravin Patel justified this. He said, “In the transport committee, there have to be male members because they have to deal with rough and tough members of staff unions, drivers and conductors day in and day out. Women are not meant for such kind of rough jobs. Also, to become a member of transport committee, one has to be conversant with technical subjects, like automobile engineering.” But what about other committees? Patel said, “Though enough representation is given to women, the law does not make it mandatory to have 50 per cent women on every committee, but whatever is done for them is based on the (ruling) party leadership’s discretion.”
Except the Woman and Child Development Committee where 14 of the 16-member committee are women, eight out of 16 committees have less than eight women members. A civic committee has 16 members each. Municipal Secretary Arun Bhatt confirms the chairman’s view that the law is silent on fifty per cent reservation for women though it makes mandatory to elect half of corporators from women candidates.
Deputy Mayor Pramodaben Sutaria, when asked about the skewed women’s representation in committees, said, “Something should be done… Though I don’t see any injustice to women in this as such, I will definitely draw the attention of party leadership to this issue so that things can become better for women next time.”
State BJP spokesman I K Jadeja said there was no provision in the law for appointing a specific number of women in a committee.
“There is a legal provision for women candidates’ reservation, but no provision in the law compels a party to appoint 50% women in committees. The selection of members of committees depends on different factors,” Jadeja said.