It is imperative that at this point in time we “prioritise women's empowerment as an intrinsic part of our development agenda and policy,” Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar has said.

“The protection of women's rights and their empowerment is our collective responsibility, and the government, social organisations and the civil society, in partnership with the media, need to create a congenial atmosphere and shape public opinion so that women have freedom to define and achieve their full potential and live purposeful lives,” she said in a message on the eve of the International Women's Day.

“We need to augment our efforts for empowering women and enhance their progress. It is our moral, social and constitutional responsibility to ensure their progress by providing them with equal rights and opportunities,” Ms. Kumar said. These ideals were rooted in the Constitution, which provides the fundamental framework for development of women and guarantees equality for them.

“Our Parliament, over the years, has enacted several laws to address the disparity and aberrations faced by women, but the efficacy of these laws and their impact on the lives of women will be felt when they are implemented in letter and in spirit.”

The National Women's Organisation, a conglomeration of groups, has welcomed the decision to introduce the Women's Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha to coincide with the International Women's Day.

“We also appreciate the firm stand taken by the various parties in favour of this Bill,” the organisation said in a statement here on Sunday.

Expressing happiness over Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar backing the Bill, the women's groups have appealed to all parties to ensure its smooth passage. “There has already been undue delay.”

It was signed by the All-India Democratic Women's Association, the All- India Women's Conference, the Centre for Women's Development Studies, the Guild of Services, Joint Women's Programme, Muslim Women's Forum, the National Federation of Indian Women, the Young Women's Christian Association and the All-India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch.

More In: National | News