Women's groups gather to push pending quota bill

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New Delhi, Apr 10 (UNI) In order to ensure that the women's reservation bill gets introduced in the coming session of Parliament, activists today organised a consultative meeting in the capital today.

''For long we have been demanding an equal share in the legislature. Although the Government has made promises of bringing in the legislation a number of times, we feel that the issue loses its importance due to lack of will and dishonest commitments. The time has now come to build the right environment to get all the political parties to support the bill,'' WomenPowerConnect President Ranjana Kumari said.

Participants at the meeting included representatives from All India Mahila Conference, YWCA, Women's Political Watch, Centre for Social Research and Bahai House for Advancement of Women.

To get support from political leaders who are opposing the Bill, the groups have now decided to adopt the unique strategy of ''Gandhigiri'', whereby from tomorrow onwards they will send a bouquet of roses to Railway Minister Lalu Prasad everyday till the Parliament session begins.

Last month in a similar consultation with parliamentarians organised by WPC, women's groups demanded immediate action on the quota bill.

The participants at the meeting unanimously resolved that the Bill be tabled for discussion on the first day of the reassembled Budget session of Parliament-- starting April 15--so that there are enough days to discuss the Bill and pass it in the same session.

They also resolved to launch a campaign--No Women's Bill-No Women's Vote-- that aims at withdrawing any support to political parties which do not favour reservation in Parliament.

The Global Gender Gap Report 2007 published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) places India at a disappointing rank of 114 out of a total of 128 countries. The study is based on indicators of economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political participation.

Surprisingly in the same report, India has attained 21st rank on the basis of political participation alone. However, this is mainly due to the constitutional reservations of 33 per cent seats for women in local level governing bodies.

Dr Kumari said many nations have recognized the fact that women deserve an equal role in decision-making processes at all levels of the administration within the country.

''Quotas have been developed as mechanisms for securing a dramatic increase in women's representation....Sadly, India has not learned from its neighbouring countries-Pakistan, China and Afghanistan, which have provided quotas for women,'' she said.

''The experiences of these countries have proven how quotas are extremely beneficial in terms of achieving greater participation of women in legislatures,'' she added.


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