Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI: The Women’s Reservation Bill seeking to set aside 33 per cent seats for women in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies is not seeing the light of day because it works on the principle of rotational reservation whereby 181 men will lose their Lok Sabha positions every five years, said Dr. Medha Nanivadekar, Director of the Centre for Women Studies, at a panel discussion on women’s empowerment and reservation organised by an NGO, Sampurna, here on Tuesday.

While all the speakers at the discussion spoke in favour of giving reservation to women, they also made suggestions to ensure a smooth passage for the Bill.

“We think that the Bill ought to be passed and any bid to reduce the proposed quota of 33 per cent is unacceptable. In order to press forth our demands we are organising a demonstration on July 23 in the Capital,” said Dr. Nanivadekar.

“However, for women’s empowerment to take place the need of the hour is to double the current strength of the Lok Sabha and to elect two candidates, a man and a woman, from every constituency,” she proposed.“If Pakistan and Bangladesh can have one representative for each constituency of about 4 lakh people, India too can carry out a constitutional amendment which will provide for two representatives, a man and a woman, for each of its constituencies of about 21 lakh people,” she said.

Imperative

BJP Member of Parliament Sumitra Mahajan said “the question is no longer whether reservation for women is appropriate or not. It has already been established that reservation is an imperative. The real issue is if reservation can empower women”.

Ms. Mahajan said women are not weaker than men in any aspect; rather it was social conditioning that was responsible for women being labelled weak: “We do not want reservation because of any post that we may get. However, reservation in Parliament will establish a role for women as decision-makers.”

Director of Centre for Social Research Ranjana Kumari said, “Reservation is a small step in the path of women’s empowerment. Political access, presence and participation for women are a must. All parties including the Congress, the BJP and the Left refer to the passing of the Women’s Bill in their election manifestos. However not much is being done.

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