The UPA government’s decision to increase the reservation for women in all tiers of the Panchayati Raj system from 33 to at least 50 per cent is historic. In a country where the President and the Speaker are women, the latest move is a step forward in making the administration gender-sensitive. Enhanced participation in the decision-making process from the grassroots level will help women launch joint campaigns against discrimination.
While the government’s move to increase reservation for women in the local bodies has been welcomed, concerns have been expressed about the dangers of this progressive measure ending up as a token gesture. Measures such as reservation should be supplemented by campaigns to increase female literacy. Educating women is no guarantee for increasing their active participation in politics though. Ways should be found to change the conservative mindset of society, which is the greatest enemy of gender equality.
A reader has pointed out that Indira Gandhi, Jayalalithaa, Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee, Mehbooba Mufti, and Sushma Swaraj did not need reservation to succeed in politics (Letters, Sept. 2). None of these women leaders rose to power without political lineage or a mentor. It is tough for women to establish themselves in a politically hostile climate. Reservation is the best way forward.
Vaibhav C. Ghalme,
Though the increase in the reservation for women in the Panchayati Raj is a step in the right direction, one should not forget that the UPA government has failed to provide a two-thirds reservation in Parliament. Our political parties provided some space in their manifesto for quota for women in Parliament but the promise has remained on paper. Inequality is inherent in our political system.
Our politicians seem to feel that every sphere of human activity needs to be subjected to reservation, so much so that they ignore individual capabilities and willingness to take up responsibilities. The thinking that reservation is the only route to social uplift is clear short-sightedness.