Voice Of The People

Representation of women in Parliament

Pradip Bhandari, the CEO and Founder of Jan Ki Baat, conversed with some women who play a major role in pushing the Women’s Reservation Bill. Dr. Ranjana Kumari, the Director of Centre for Social Research, Dr. Jyotsna Chatterji, Director of JWP, Gauri Sarin of Saahas and Forum for Women Leaders, explained their aims. The current Bill that holds 33% reservation for women in the Parliament has already been passed in Rajya Sabha but remains unaddressed in the Lok Sabha. The presence of women, or rather lack of, in political and decision making scenarios must be rectified to fully absorb the Constitution’s spirit.

The 108th Constitution amendment Bill, also called the Women’s Reservation Bill has been a political document for the past two decades. So far, it has managed to get the assent of Rajya Sabha, only. I September of 1996 it was first introduced in the Lok Sabha by the HD Gowda government it argued for reserving 33% seats for women in the Lok Sabha and all Legislative Assemblies: a seat would be reserved only once in three consecutive general elections and this reservation would cease to exist 15 years after its commencement. Since then the Bill’s political representation has been reintroduced by Vajpayee in 1998, by the Manmohan Singh government in 2008, finally in March 2010 it was passed in the Rajya Sabha under the UPA government with the help of the BJP, the Left and some other parties.

The lack of political will to convert the Bill into a Law brings the focus on the nature of Indian society. The representation of women in the Indian Parliament and their absence from the administrative plane bears testimony to this un-egalitarian system. What’s the vision of it and when will it be achieved?


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