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Pass the Women’s Reservation Bill NOW! महिला आरक्षण विधेयक पारित करो!
Enact the Women’s Reservation Bill! महिला आरक्षण विधेयक पारित करो!
The Women’s Reservation Bill was first introduced in the Lok Sabha on September 12, 1996. Despite the fact that it has been introduced in Parliament several times since then, the Bill was not taken for consideration and put to vote. The enactment of the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments that mandated 33% reservations for women in Panchayats and Local Bodies since 1995, has facilitated the entry of lakhs of women in the political arena. Some states have raised it to 50%. Women from every strata of society, despite tremendous odds and opposition, have made significant contributions. Women’s participation in local bodies and elected Panchayats has given our country a welcome stature. However women’s presence in Parliament and State Assemblies continues to be around 10% or less. At the risk of stating the obvious, the absence of gender perspectives in Parliamentary debates, discussions and policies is both striking and shocking.
The Bill has been discussed thoroughly by two Parliamentary committees, in the second committee where the Report was submitted in December 2009, endorsed the Bill as it was. With the historic passage of the 33% Women’s Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha on 9th March 2010, women of this country were very optimistic that the Bill would soon be passed by the Lok Sabha and would become a law. Unfortunately, the much anticipated Women’s Bill lapsed following the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha in 2014.
Gender perspectives have been ignored often while drafting and announcing bills, laws and most importantly the budget in the parliament. We express our deep concern that the 33% Women’s Reservation Bill has completely disappeared from the agenda of the present NDA Government despite their electoral promise of ‘not 33 but 50%’. The government shelved it on the pretext of what they called ‘lack of political consensus’.
To strengthen the demand for passage of women’s reservation bills in the parliament it is important for all states and grassroots organizations across different states of India to come together and raise this demand in a unified voice. Combined efforts of organizations, people and especially women across India will help in passage of this bill which has been languishing for years in the Parliament but still has not been passed. We request all grassroots organizations across different states of India to join us in taking this demand forward and help us in passage of the bill in the upcoming parliament session. We appeal to all organizations in different states to be active part of all future action.
In fact, the Union Law Minister DV Sadanand Gowda admitted in the Rajya Sabha on August 7, 2015 that, “the Government has not started consultation with any political party or other stake holder” on the Women’s Reservation Bill. He stated that “the issue involved needs careful consideration on the basis of consensus among all political parties before a Bill for amendment in the Constitution is brought before Parliament. The MWCD Minister on September 14th 2015 said in the Parliament that she “does not see it listed in Parliament in the near future”.
Both the President and the Vice President emphasised upon the need of women's reservation bill in the women representatives' meeting, but PM Modi kept silent. He did make a symbolic gesture of calling upon women parliamentarians to speak on the Women's Day, but the PM doesn't seem to have interest in concrete measures enhacing women's representation.
No rules of Parliament say that a bill can be passed only after arriving at a consensus. We are forced to believe that perhaps the consensus lies on the other side to thwart the enactment of the Women’s Reservation Bill.
We come together to once again reiterate our demand for equal representation, and resolve that Parliament pass it in the next session.
We demand that the Women’s Reservation Bill be introduced, discussed and put to vote in the Lok Sabha to begin a new era in the legislative history of the country.
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