From India News Network (INN)
New Delhi, March 12: The All India Democratic Women’s Association Delhi State Committee has sent the following letter to Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister of Delhi on today (12 March 2018) regarding Women’s reservation in Parliament and State Assemblies.
Dear Mr Kejriwal
It is with a sense of deep disappointment that we bring to your attention to the lackadaisical attitude of the Central Government towards bringing the Women’s Reservation Bill onto the agenda of Parliament. It is a matter of concern that the Bill seems to have completely disappeared from the political agenda today.
Surely you do subscribe to the view that women’s enhanced political participation is imperative for facilitating equitable development.
While the enactment of the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments that facilitated the entry of lakhs of women in villages, small towns and cities, into the political arena was a welcome step, women of India are still struggling to secure the same in Parliament and State Legislatures. Women’s presence in the Indian Parliament is about 11.4 %. The State Legislative Assemblies also display a similar gender imbalance. Delhi has an abysmal presence of women in the assembly – a mere 8.57 %.
The Bill after going through a long process of consultation at all levels, has already been passed by the Rajya Sabha on 9th March 2010 but has yet to see the light of day in Lok Sabha. The current Government which came to power in May 2014 has not moved on this front at all. This despite the fact that the BJP had included an assurance for passage of the Women’s Bill in its election manifesto, holding out to women a promise that their democratic right to adequate presence in the highest decision making bodies would be recognised. Successive governments have been shelving the Women’s Reservation Bill on the pretext of what is termed ‘lack of political consensus’. No rule of Parliament says that a bill can be passed only after arriving at a consensus – all it needs is a majority of votes of the members present, in this case 2/3 majority for a Constitutional amendment. What indeed is lacking is the political will of the government.
The women of this country have carried out a peaceful struggle and have already waited 22 long years for the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill. Leaders from public platforms do support women’s reservation, but this is mere tokenism unless there are sincere and concrete steps to end the impasse. Women’s exclusion from a fair representation in the National and State legislatures must now end without any further delay.
Mr Kejriwal, it is high time State assemblies rose up to the occasion to proactively demonstrate their commitment to increased representation of women in higher decision making bodies. We request you to intercede with the ruling NDA Government at the centre by passing a resolution in the State Assembly making a recommendation to the government at the Centre in this regard. This would set a precedent for other State Assemblies to follow and we hope would ensure that the Bill eventually became law.
?Maimoona Mollah (President) Asha Sharma (General Secretary)