Rights body urges voters to disregard parties that ignore Women's Reservation Bill, says India needs more women decision makers

A group of women's organisations have decided to urge female voters to snub political parties which are ignoring the Women's Reservation Bill. In a statement, the National Alliance for Women's Organisations (NAWO), comprising over 100 women's rights groups, said the marginal representation of women in Parliament and legislative assemblies is a matter of grave concern.

Dr Ranjana Kumari, director of Centre for Social Research which is part of NAWO, said: “Unless we have more women in Parliament and in legislative assemblies, our issues will be ignored time and again. A mere 12 percent representation of women in India's Parliament is one of the lowest in the world."

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The Women's Reservation Bill was developed in order to facilitate women's political participation by reserving 33 percent of all seats in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies for women.

"It's high time the women of India understand the gravity of the situation and do something about it. The rampant stories of crimes against women in India say a lot about where our country is heading in terms of development. We need many more women in decision making positions to address such serious concerns on a war footing,” Kumari said.

The alliance recently released a charter of demands at a national event in Delhi, one of the major demands was the passage of the Women's Reservation Bill. It had earlier conducted a massive campaign, as part of which more than 5,000 letters were sent to the Prime Minister's residence demanding passage of the bill.

The 22-year-old bill has been impeded in each of its outings in Parliament before it was passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2010. At the time, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) along with the Samajwadi Party had opposed it. The Lok Sabha has never voted on the bill and it lapsed after the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha in 2014.

Despite constituting 49 percent of the country's population, the marginalisation of women in politics is extremely apparent in this year's Economic Survey of India. Data shows that there are only 65 women parliamentarians in Lok Sabha out of the total number of 543, with women's representation at 11.8 percent. Rajya Sabha fares marginally better, with 31 women parliamentarian out of a total of 243 MPs with a representation of 12.7 percent.

As per the latest study on women in Parliament, India ranks 103rd among other countries in terms of representation.

"The Bill is vital for realising women's rights under the Constitution of India and for addressing the widespread gender inequality throughout the country. The Women's Reservation Bill, which is currently a live bill that has been passed by the Rajya Sabha can be taken by the present government with a two-thirds majority. The point of this bill is to give women ground to fight elections where women will fight women only so that the winner will be a woman," the organisation said in a statement.


Updated Date: Aug 30, 2018 17:47 PM

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