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National Conference of Women Legislators: President, V-P pitch for 33% reservation for women in LS

They were speaking at the inaugural function of National Conference of Women Legislators at Vigyan Bhawan. PM Narendra Modi was also present.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: March 6, 2016 1:20:08 am
pranab mukherjee, women reservation, president pranab mukherjee, parliament women reservation, 33 per cent women reservation, pranab mukherjee women reservation, india news, latest news, President Pranab Mukherjee during the inaugural session of the National Conference of Women Legislators in New Delhi on Saturday. (Source: PIB)

Citing the current 12 per cent representation of women in Parliament, President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari Saturday virtually pitched in for a revival of the Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, aimed at giving 33 per cent reservation to women in Lok Sabha and state assemblies. They were speaking at the inaugural function of National Conference of Women Legislators at Vigyan Bhawan. PM Narendra Modi was also present.

“How can there be empowerment without representation?” Mukherjee asked, describing low representation of women in Parliament as “a sad commentary on us”.

The conference, hosted by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra mahajan, is being attended by former President Pratibha Patil, Union ministers Sushma Swaraj, Najma Heptullah and Maneka Gandhi, Gujarat CM Anandiben Patel, former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, among others. Bangladesh Jatiyo Samshad Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, who attended Saturday’s function, is scheduled to chair a session of the two-day conference.

Mukherjee, who was leader of the House in Lok Sabha during the UPA regime, said Swaraj would bear him out on the effort they made to get Women’s Reservation Bill passed. He said even though “the legislation was passed with two-thirds majority in one of the Houses (Rajya Sabha), the other House has not yet approved it”. (The bill has not been brought into the Lok Sabha due to opposition from many parties. However, the bill continues to hold because the Upper House is permanent.)

Ansari, also the Rajya Sabha Chairman, said, “All political parties need to extend support to ensure that the Bill… is not delayed further.”

Ansari said despite the fact that women constituted 47 per cent of the electorate, only 9.17 per cent of candidates fielded by the six recognised national parties in 2014 Lok Sabha elections happened to be women.

He said even the increase of women representation at panchayat and local bodies level to 43 per cent had not led to their proportional increase in legislatures both at the Centre and in states as gender profile in Parliament remained “woefully imbalanced” with 12 per cent of the total members being women.

Citing data, he said committees on Finance, Estimates, Defence and Home Affairs together had only seven women members — six per cent of their total strength of 124 in the two Houses.

Mukherjee lauded Modi for “Beti bachao, beti padhao” slogan. He said, “The PM is giving more than an hour (to the inaugural function where he was not even scheduled to speak) without participating in it; that shows his total commitment.”

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