The seventh meeting of women Speakers of Parliament ended here on Thursday with a call for promoting women’s representation in Parliaments and other elected bodies through supportive electoral laws and temporary special measures.
A declaration adopted at the end of the two-day meeting said it was important to bring women’s participation to its utmost potential by enabling their representation in all parliamentary committees and ensuring their nomination or election to leadership positions in parliamentary structures.
Without mentioning the Women’s Reservation Bill – passed by the Rajya Sabha but pending in the Lok Sabha – Speaker Meira Kumar told journalists she would like to see more women on the floor of the House.
Ms. Kumar said she had been requested by MPs to play a proactive role in ensuring that women got more space in Parliament and she had even called several meetings on the issue.
Praising male MPs, Ms. Kumar said they were very respectful to women and helped the passage of a series of women-centric laws, some of which were path-breaking including the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments which reserved 33 per cent seats for women in panchayats and municipal bodies. “We do have a gender-sensitive Parliament.’’
There are 190 Parliaments in the world but only 37 have women Speakers. While India does have one in the Lok Sabha, the representation of women in the House is only 11 per cent.
The Delhi Declaration said gender equality should be placed higher on the parliamentary agenda by ensuring debates on the issue inside Parliament, by mainstreaming gender through the establishment of specialised committees, and through women’s caucuses and gender units.
It called for sharing the responsibility for gender equality with men by raising their awareness and knowledge and associating them in legislative initiatives, debates and events on women’s rights.
The meeting had been organised by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and Indian Parliament.