A bill that died many deaths

The International Women’s Day is a reminder about scanty presence of women in parliament and legislatures. Yet leaders have shown no urgency to pass the women’s reservation bill.

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Aasha Khosa | March 8, 2017 | New Delhi


#UPA   #Sonia Gandhi   #international women's day   #women's reservation bill   #BJP   #Rajya Sabha   #parliament  


The inherent misogyny and patriarchy in the political class has prevented Indian women from getting a fair share in running the parliament and legislative assemblies in the largest democracy of the world.  These attitudes are best illustrated by the way male-dominated parties have scuttled the Women’s Reservation Bill that envisages 33 percent reservation for women in parliament and legislatures.

While all politicians are busy paying tribute to womenhood on the IWD, let’s have a look at where India stands in women’s participation in lawmaking:
 
India stands on 103rd position in the global list of 140 countries on women’s representation in parliament and state legislatures. While the global average for women in parliament stands at 22.4 percent, India had 12 percent women lawmakers.
 
According to Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) within Asia, India is at the 13th position out of 18 countries. Countries like South Sudan, Saudi Arabia have better women representation in parliament than India.
 
The fate of the women’s reservation bill:
 
1.       The bill on reserving 33 percent seats for women in parliament and state legislatures are first introduced in by the HD Deve Gowda-led United Front government in the Lok Sabha on September 12, 1996.
 
2.       It was vehemently opposed by leaders of caste-based parties like Lalu Yadav, Ramvilas Paswan and Mulayam Singh Yadav. They argued that the reservation would benefit the already empowered women and not those belonging to disadvantageous castes and communities.
 
3.    Finally, The Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, 2008, was passed in Rajya Sabha amidst boycott by those opposed to it. It was done at the initiative of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi during the UPA’s first term.
 
4.    The bill has since lapsed as the Lok Sabha’s term had come to an end.
 
5.    Though the BJP government had promised to get the bill passed in its election manifesto, it has hardly even spoken about it after coming to power. Recently senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Niadu said the BJP will bring the bill only after it has a majority in the Rajya Sabha.
 

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