In order to gather support for the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill (WRB), woman organisations have started reaching out to MPs (Members of Parliament) in India. As part of this initiative, Centre for Social Research (CSR), New Delhi, has started sending letters and a draft parliament question to the parliamentarians regarding elected representatives’ commitment towards more women in governance in India.
“We are pinning our hopes on the present government as they had promised the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill in their election manifesto, and today they have the required number of elected representatives to get the bill passed and change our political system for good. Our campaign is focused on mobilising both men and women from Parliament to Panchayats. We will leave no stone unturned to make them realise the importance of this issue,” says Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Director, Centre for Social Research.
The draft parliament question consists of, two questions, “Given that most of the political parties represented in the 16th Lok Sabha have spoken in favour of the Women Reservation Bill (WRB) in their election manifestoes, why the Bill has not been tabled in Parliament for discussion and voting, even after completion of three years of the 16th Lok Sabha?”
Further, the draft asks another question, “Considering that the Rajya Sabha passed the bill on March 9, 2010 and Union Cabinet cleared the Bill on February 25, 2010, in which session of parliament in the year 2017 the Bill will be tabled in the 16th Lok Sabha for voting?”
CSR is expecting that more and more MPs will raise the question in the Parliament and finally concerned authority will be liable to answer it. Ultimately, this will lead to tabling of WRB in Parliament for discussion and voting.
“We are very positive that the bill will be discussed and passed in the Monsoon Session of Parliament,” adds Dr. Kumari.
According to CSR, this is also very important especially in the context of the global scenario with regards to women in politics. Studies show that India stands at 103rd place out of 140 countries in terms of women in Parliament and State Assemblies. The recently concluded UK elections have resulted in the maximum number of women in their Parliament ever. However, the patriarchal mindsets in the Indian politics fail to change despite our tall claims of being a progressive democracy.
The Women’s Reservation Bill was developed in order to facilitate women’s political participation by reserving 33 percent of all seats for women in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies. The Bill is vital for realising women’s rights under the Constitution of India and for addressing the widespread gender inequality throughout the country.