New Delhi: How can there be empowerment of women without their representation in public office, President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said as he made a strong pitch for reviving the Constitution amendment Bill to give 33 percent reservation to women in Parliament and the state Assemblies.
Inaugurating the first-ever National Conference of Women Legislators here, Mukherjee said the country has not been able to achieve more than 12 percent representation for women out of the total membership of Parliament, which is "a sad commentary on us".
"How can there be empowerment without representation?" he said, adding that "attitudinal change is necessary."
The meet with the theme, 'Role of Women Legislators in Nation Building', has been organised by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. It is being attended by women MPs and MLAs from across the country besides Speaker of the Bangladesh Parliament, Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury.
Recalling the efforts put in under the previous UPA government to pass the women's reservation Bill, Mukherjee said, "Even the legislation was passed with two-thirds majority in one of the Houses of Parliament (Lok Sabha); the other House has not yet approved it."
He said Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari has rightly spoken about the need for commitment from the political parties "in actual action, not in words, not in resolutions" in this regard.
The President said unless there is reservation, it is too much to expect that political parties will start giving one- third of tickets to women candidates.
"To expect that everybody will fall in line is too much and normally does not happen," he said at the first-of-its- kind conference.
On the issue of poor representation of women in committees not dealing with women's matters, Mukherjee said representation on such panels is not in the hands of the members of the political parties as it is distributed according to the strength of the parties in the House.