With the monsoon session of Parliament set to begin on Monday next, women’s groups have got together to demand the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill in the Lok Sabha.
The Bill that seeks to reserve 33 per cent seats for women in State Assemblies and Parliament was passed in the Rajya Sabha in March 2010 amidst pandemonium after more than a decade of struggle to arrive at a consensus with various political parties on the draft of the Bill.
However, the Bill has not been tabled in the Lok Sabha as the government still wants to reach on an agreement with other political parties like the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Samajwadi Party who are opposed to the present draft of the Bill and are demanding reservation within reservation for Muslim and women from the backward classes.
Expressing concern that the 33 per cent Women’s Reservation Bill was once again missing from the agenda of business that has been finalised for the upcoming session, representatives of various women’s groups have submitted a memorandum to the Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar suggested that this “was not only a betrayal of the solemn assurances made by the present United Progressive Alliance government and the President, but also a great blow to democracy.”
“Attempts to link the tabling of the Bill in the Lok Sabha to an elusive consensus are completely unjustifiable, and indicate a lack of political will. Three sessions have already gone by since the Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha and assembly elections to five States have been held in this period in which only 9 per cent of women have been elected,” the memorandum said.
Demanding that the UPA government fulfill its promise to the women of this country by introducing the existing Bill in the Lok Sabha, the memorandum said there can be a thorough discussion on the Bill and amendments can be moved by all those who wish to. ``Without any dilution in the 33 per cent minimum representation for women, we look forward to more women from minorities, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, other backward classes and other under represented and vulnerable sections coming into the topmost decision making bodies through the passage of the Bill.
Representatives from women’s groups will be meeting Union Ministers also to put forward their demand and will also launch a joint movement to push their agenda.
The memorandum was signed by All India democratic Women’s Association, National Federation of Indian Women, All India Women’s Conference, Guild of Services, Joint Women’s Programme, Young Women’s Christian Association, Women’s PowerConnect, All India Progressive Women’s Association, among others.
Keywords: Women’s Reservation Bill