In a first, the women’s wing of the Sarv Jatiya Sarv Khap mahapanchayat held a meeting of their own on Sunday, and made the ambitious demand of 50 per cent reservation for women in state assemblies and Parliament.
The meeting was held at Manas village in district Kaithal. The village has two panchayats, with women sarpanches heading both.
The women resolved to begin a campaign for their demand, by seeking the support of MLAs, MPs and other organisations. They will also submit a representation to the Prime Minister.
The president of the women’s wing of Sarv Jatiya Sarv Khap mahapanchayat, Dr Santosh Dahiya said that the Bill to give 33 percent reservation to women has been pending since 1988.
“The issue was raised in the panchayat today. But why should women get only 33 percent reservation. Rather it should be 50 percent. We have decided to start a campaign for this. We will rope in MPs, MLAs and different associations. A representation will be prepared that will be handed over to the Prime Minister,” said Dr Dahiya.
Dr Dahiya said that women should be given equal representation in social and political spheres which has not been the case till now. She said that though in panchayats 33 percent reservation is given to women, this should also be increased to 50 percent.
The issue of the male relatives dominating in the panchayats where it was women who were elected was raised in the meeting.
One of the women sarpanches of the village Rupesh refused to take off her veil or address the gathering insisting that her husband would do so. It was after much coaxing during the meeting that she agreed to remove the veil that covered her face.
Dr Dahiya said that this is another area of concern on which discussion was held as at places where women are elected, it is the husbands, brothers, brothers-in-law or any other male member who is calling the shots. She said, “This time educated women have been elected. They should be taking decisions instead of depending on the male relatives. It is an issue on which we will be working.”
The women raised various issues during the panchayat including closing down of liquor vends in the village. The elderly women complained that since they did not have any age proof, it was difficult for them to get old-age pensions.