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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Activists say women struggling for representation in Parliament even after 75 years of Independence

The Women's Reservation Bill reserves one-third of all seats for women in Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies. Rajya Sabha passed the bill in 2010, but Lok Sabha never voted on the bill and it is still pending.

By: PTI | New Delhi |
August 12, 2021 7:25:36 pm
Indian parliament, pariament, Women Reservation Bill, Mahua Moitra, women representation, women representation in parliament, women MPs, Indian express, indian express newsWomen rights activists held a public consultation to prepare a "toolkit" for passage of thewomen's reservation bill. (File)

Women’s rights activists and parliamentarians held a public consultation on Thursday to ensure passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill in Lok Sabha, noting that even after 75 years of Independence, women have been struggling to get proper representation in Parliament.

TMC MP Mahua Moitra extended her support to the Women’s Reservation Bill, saying women have to be given representation at electoral politics and at organisational political level.

The pending bill reserves one-third of all seats for women in Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies. Rajya Sabha passed the bill in 2010, but Lok Sabha never voted on the bill and it is still pending.

The women rights activists held a public consultation to prepare a “toolkit” for passage of the bill, noting that even after 75 years of Independence, women have been struggling to get proper representation in Lok Sabha and in state assemblies.

TMC MP Moitra said there seems to be no political will around it.

“Parties have enjoyed brute majorities but whether it is the Congress or the BJP there has been no consensus around the bill like there was in the OBC bill in Parliament recently. Actually we don’t need a bill to tell us to do the right thing. So similarly TMC and BJD have not waited for any bill for doing this. We don’t need a bill to give women representation,” she said.

“Every party has the ability to say we are going to give tickets to women. Women have to be at electoral politics but also at organisational political level and this is where all political parties have to get their act together. Reservation also means moving away from nepotism,” the TMC MP said.

Aruna Roy, social activist who founded the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, said it is “ridiculous” that despite being 50 per cent of the country’s population, women have such low representation in Parliament and in state assemblies.

“We have had a volatile journey and we must ensure that on the 75th anniversary we must get the reservation. We need to think what we want from the bill and that is why this toolkit needs to be made. We are very worried about why this bill has not been passed. We have so much contribution then why we are not being given recognition,” she said.

Mohini Giri, who has been the chairperson of the Guild of Service and the National Commission for Women, said women’s voices have to be made heard.
“Till we are given equal rights who will hear our voices. I believe that now time has come to not call it reservation but we should say that in 75 years, why have we not even 75 per cent in Parliament and what men achieved to have such high representation,” Giri said.

“Women groups must call collective meetings involving women from all walks of life. We must make a decision to make strong women groups. Thirdly, I would like to say that when we demanded reservation some people opposed we must discuss those oppositions and what has been said in Parliament we must analyse that too to answer their opposition,” she added.

Vimal Thorat, the national convenor of All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch, said women have been struggling for years and this struggle must reach a conclusion.

“Dr B R Ambedkar has said till women don’t progress a country cant progress and that holds true today. The role of all women whether they are Muslim, Dalit Adivasi must be fixed and all their contribution must be acknowledged and then only the government might acknowledge it. We must have one voice,” she asserted.

Syeda Hameed, a social and women’s rights activist, said the nomenclature of the bill must be changed so that its impact increases.

“On social media, we must present how we can project the stand of the political parties,” she said.

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