Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader initiates a hunger strike in New Delhi, urging the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill (WRB), which aims to enhance women’s representation in legislative bodies.
What is Women Reservation Bill (WRB):
The Women’s Reservation Bill, a proposed constitutional amendment, seeks to reserve one-third (33%) of seats for women in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies. This provision is seen as a crucial step towards empowering women in Indian politics.
Timeline of the Bill:
- 1996: First introduced but lapsed due to dissolution of Lok Sabha.
- 1998: Reintroduced but did not receive adequate support.
- 1999: Reintroduced in the 13th Lok Sabha but faced challenges.
- 2004: Included in the Common Minimum Programme and tabled in Rajya Sabha in 2008.
- 2010: Passed in Rajya Sabha but lapsed in Lok Sabha.
Challenges in Passing the Bill:
- Heated Debates and Sexist Remarks: The WRB has faced intense debates and sexist comments, hindering its passage.
- Quota within Quota: The proposal for reservation of seats for Other Backward Class (OBC) women within the 1/3rd reservation for women has been a point of contention.
- Lack of Political Will: Many political parties have not taken substantial steps to support women’s reservation.
- Diversion of Focus: Opponents argue that the WRB diverts attention from crucial electoral reforms.
Status of Women Representation in India:
- Gujarat: Only 8% of women legislators in the 182-member assembly.
- Himachal Pradesh: Elected only 1 woman out of 67 legislators, despite a significant female voter base.
- National Average: The national average of women in state assemblies is approximately 8%.
- Global Ranking: India ranks 144 out of 193 countries in women’s representation in parliament.
Importance of the WRB:
- Historical Inequality: Women have historically faced systemic inequalities and barriers.
- Inclusive Representation: WRB promotes representation of women across caste groups, adhering to constitutional principles.
- Empowerment through Reservations: Studies have shown positive impacts of reservations on women’s empowerment and resource allocation.
The Way Forward:
- Unlocking Potential: India, with its substantial women population, can significantly progress by empowering women politically.
- Initiating Democratic Participation: WRB can jump-start the democratic process, allowing a majority of the population to actively participate in governance decisions.
The Women’s Reservation Bill is a significant step towards promoting gender equality and fostering a more inclusive and representative democracy in India. It’s imperative to address challenges and garner support to realize the potential of this important legislation.
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