The UPA government’s proposal to increase women’s reservation from 33 per cent to 50 per cent in all tiers of the Panchayati Raj system is a right step in the direction of women’s empowerment. It will open up opportunities for women to aspire for higher goals.

As pointed out in the editorial “Now go for the real thing” (Sept. 1), the government should muster the political will and the numbers to ensure the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill, which seeks to provide 33 per cent reservation to women in Parliament and the State legislatures.

Lajpat Rai Garg,

Panchkula

While it is true that women today compete with men in every major field, and even do better on many occasions, no one can deny that they are victims of the principles put in place by our male-oriented society. The Congress and the BJP should take the much-needed initiative, setting their differences aside, and see that the Bill is passed in the next Parliament session.

Saritha Chilakamarri,

Chittoor

By enhancing the representation of women in the local bodies from 33 to 50 per cent, the government has achieved a major milestone. It has taken a right step towards lowering the gender disparity in representation at the grassroots level. It will surely lead to the formation of more representative Panchayati Raj institutions.

Vishnu Tallapragada,

Chandigarh

Increased reservation for women in all tiers of the Panchayati Raj system is an optimistic sign of things to come. It will provide greater scope for women to prove their mettle. But the opportunity should be utilised well by those who stand to gain from it. It is important for women to prove that they can think independently and take bold decisions, and belie the claim that they function as a mere rubberstamp when they are in positions of power.

Eventually, the Women’s Reservation Bill will also see the light of the day. And then it will be all the more important for women to prove that they deserve to be where they are, thereby justifying the benefits they get by way of reservation.

Sindhu Sekar,

Chennai

While the UPA government’s decision to increase the quota for women in the local bodies is a welcome step, it should also ensure that their participation is real.

In most cases, women function as mere figureheads with someone else acting as de facto representatives. This practice is a stumbling block to women’s empowerment at the grassroots level.

M. Somasekhar Prasad,

Badvel

Women need to be given an opportunity to participate in greater numbers in politics. It will surely empower those belonging to the marginalised sections too. A majority of women live in the villages. The move to increase reservation for women in the local bodies will, therefore, ensure that they have a better opportunity to voice their views and shed the culture of male dominance.

Vinoo Fabian,

Bangalore

Poor women belonging to the villages cannot participate in politics unless they become economically independent. All-round empowerment will become possible only when women decide to empower themselves.

The UPA government should, in addition to increasing the quota for women, come up with some financial measures to help them. Only then will reservation for women lead to a qualitative change along with a quantitative one.

Naveen Kolloju,

New Delhi

Although the government’s decision is a step in the right direction, one should not be oblivious to the absence of concrete measures from all political parties, barring the Left, to implement 33 per cent of reservation for women in Parliament and the State legislatures. And it is reservation in these elected bodies that holds the key to their political empowerment. The lack of political consensus should no longer be used as an excuse to put the Women’s Reservation Bill on the back burner.

M. Jeyaram,

Sholavandan

The passage of the Women’s Bill would indeed be the next logical step. The Congress, the BJP and the Left parties can easily muster the requisite strength in Parliament to pass the historic Bill. Reservations expressed by leaders of some caste-based parties should be ignored. Another step forward would be the abolition of caste-based reservation and introduction of reservation based on economic status.

Comdt G.V. Mathew (retd.),

Thiruvananthapuram

It is a pity that our MPs do not show the interest they have shown in increasing the representation of women in the local bodies in passing the Women’s Bill, which has been hanging fire for long. The Bill is being delayed by our MPs on some pretext or the other. Only if the UPA government ensures that the Bill is passed without further delay can it claim that it is committed to women’s empowerment.

S. Nallasivan,

Tirunelveli

Indira Gandhi, Jayalalithaa, Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee, Mehbooba Mufti, and Sushma Swaraj became successful in politics in the absence of reservation. What this proves is the political climate is not prejudiced against women. Reservation is a tool that should be used to undo political and social oppression. Since lower representation for women in legislative bodies is a result of their lack of interest in politics (as evident from the number of men and women in various political parties), and not oppression, it is not necessary to reserve seats for them in Parliament.

M.D. Ravikanth,

Chennai

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