Bhubaneshwar, June 8 : Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on Sunday expressed hope that the Women Reservation Bill would be passed during his tenure only which will end next year.
Chatterjee was speaking to media in Bhubaneshwar where he was scheduled to deliver Loknath Choudhury Memorial Lecture. He said keeping 33 per cent of seats reserved for women was not "mercy" on them.
"Rather it is their right to get 33 per cent of seats even as they constitute half of the country's population," he said.
"Even six decades after independence, women representation in our higher representative bodies is woefully inadequate," he said, adding that literacy level among women was also not at par with the men.
He said a country cannot develop unless women are given equal status.
He also called upon political parties for cooperation, to shun "intolerance" and unite on national issues including providing 33 per cent of seats to women in State Assemblies and in the parliament.
Answering to a question, Chatterjee said: "Achieving consensus on Women Reservation Bill had been very difficult so far."
He also described farmers' suicide a "national shame" and added that "There should be a national agenda to solve problems faced by the farmers."
He refused to comment on recent fuel price rise.
Chatterjee said the profits of growth in GDP should reach the grassroots level.
"It should be terms of employment, wage, health, education and other sectors," he said adding that eight per cent growth in the GDP had not percolated to the grass root level.