Thursday, March 11, 2010


Women’s Reservation Bill will enhance their state of being...

What happened in the Rajya Sabha (RS) on March 8, was a classic metaphor of women, and their state in the Indian society. In front of the entire nation, a few leaders from the Opposition par ties, snatched, tore the Women's Reservation Bill into pieces and threw them back on the face of Hamid An sari, the Chairman of the RS. It all started when the most awaited announcement of the UPA government of implementing the long pending bill was in progress. What else could have one expected from India, especially on the verge of the 100th anniversary of the International Women’s Day. Initially, the hopes of more than 33 crore registered Indian women voters seemed to have got smashed, but the very next day the bill got passed in the RS albeit after a lot of political drama.

Once enacted, the bill would allot 33 per cent of total seats in the Lok Sabha and in state assemblies to women. On the one hand, the Bill has the support of the Congress, the BJP and the Left parties. On the other hand, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Samajwadi Party are against it. Given the fact that the average representation of women in the Parliament stands at depressing 11 per cent, such a bill becomes far more imperative. With just 61 women MPs being elected in the 15th Lok Sabha election, the representation ratio of total women population boils down to one woman representative for every 81 lakh women. Most of the developed nations have around 15 per cent women representing their respective parliaments, but then these countries are relatively less populated, which indicates a decent women representation. Even countries like Pakistan (22 per cent), Rwanda (56 per cent), Angola (37 per cent) have better women’s representation in their houses. Similar initiative, of reserving seats for women, in panchayat has shown great noteworthy results and today in most states, (like Uttarakhand, Orissa, MP, Bihar and others) the panchayats are adequately represented by women. More than 10 lakh women are in our panchayati raj institutions comprising up to 54 per cent of the total representation. As against that this year, political parties had only, on an aver age, 6.88 per cent women candidates. Even a communist country like China main tains a reservation of 22 per cent in the National People’s Congress for the women. Needless to state, on a global scale, India ranks 99th in Inter-Parliamentary Union list that measures women’s representation in the Parliament.

It is quite an irony that, when women are opening the floodgates of the corporate and the practicing professional world, it is administration and politics that do not find them in plenty. There are numerous examples where one can find women heading big businesses and are serving as successful professionals. The perception of women has encountered a paradigm shift , particularly, post liberalisation. But then, similar shift s in the perception of ‘women in power & active politics’ are still being debated. Still, arenas like politics, judiciary and bureaucracy have dismal representation of women, pushing them to margins! That too when it has been known that increase in women representation helps in reducing the widening gender disparity, which itself has been such a big predicament! No doubt, the passage of this bill would allow many more deserving women candidates to enter the two houses and hope fully bring about the much needed structural changes in Indian women’s status of being! With Indians celebrating International Women’s Day — that marks the empowerment of women — like almost every other nation, the inclusion of women through such a bill would in a real sense give meaning to the celebration.


1 comment:

  1. Some things happen only in India ...
    Indian PM initiates scrapping/failing of discriminatory bills with dependency checks on concept map principles of caste/religion/sex quota & directs MPs to focus on principles of universe over multiverse.