Women’s groups have welcomed the Cabinet clearance for the Women’s Reservation Bill and the government’s decision to table it in the current session of Parliament.

Welcoming the move, the All-India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) hoped there would be no delay in placing the Bill for voting and that the government would not succumb to the pressure tactics of those who have successfully scuttled all efforts to pass the Bill since 1996.

“The passage of the Bill will be a great step forward for the women’s movement and also a tribute to the memory of Gita Mukherjee, who played a pivotal role in the initiation of this process. It would be fitting if this Bill is passed in this the centenary year of the declaration of March 8 as the International Women’s Day,” the AIDWA said in a statement here.

Decade-old

The decade-old bill — which seeks to reserve 33 per cent of seats for women in both houses of Parliament and State Assemblies and has been languishing in Parliament — was finally tabled in the Rajya Sabha in 2008 and subsequently referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Personnel, which recommended its early passage.

Reacting to the move, Ranjana Kumari, president of Women Power Connect and director of the Centre for Social Research, said: “We are elated to see that our years of toil are finally beginning to bear fruit. However, we still need to carefully observe how quickly the Bill is finally passed and how effectively the government is going to implement this.”

Women’s groups have emphasised over the years that the gender balance in politics is about women’s full, equal and active participation.

“It is about getting a critical mass or at least 33 per cent of women in positions of power and decision-making so that they can change the nature and practice of politics to genuinely respond to society’s problems,” Ms. Kumari said.

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