Women demand greater political representation

Women activists demanded greater political representation, with a special emphasis on the passage of the bill that promises 33 percent reservation to women in Parliament.

New Delhi: As the world gears up to celebrate
International Women`s Day tomorrow, women activists today
demanded greater political representation, with a special
emphasis on the passage of the bill that promises 33 per cent
reservation to women in Parliament.

Emphasising the importance of Women`s Day in the Indian
context, CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat said, "we need to
celebrate the fact that in spite of adverse and hostile
conditions, women here are breaking barriers and making it on
their own."

"This is an occasion to put pressure on the government to
pass long-pending legislations that would be benefit women,
like the Women`s Reservation Bill," Karat said.

Sudha Sundararaman, All India Democratic Women`s
Association (AIDWA) General Secretary, wondered if panchayats
can have 50 per cent reservation for women, then why cannot
Parliament have 33 per cent.

"The government should stop paying lip service, and
actually put words into action," she said.

Beside the 33 per cent reservation, the government should
also implement existing laws and draft better laws for
prevention of violence against women, the AIDWA General
Secretary said.

"The Bhanwari Devi case in Rajasthan and happenings in
the Karnataka Assembly show how commodification of women has
made them vulnerable. Stricter implementation of existing laws
and better laws need to be drafted by the government to tackle
this," Sundararaman said.

Several important bills like the Pre-Conception &
Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, amendment to Immoral
Traffic (Prevention) Act and Child Sexual Abuse bill have been
introduced as early as 1997, but have still not been passed,
she said.

Sex-ratio continue to drop as a result of this, causing
gender imbalance, Sundararaman said.

The government should ensure that policies are women-
friendly and ensure gender equity, she said. For example, as
more and more women are stepping out of their homes to join
the workforce, there are more requirements for working women`s
hostels and day care centres for children. The government
should allocated money for such schemes, she said.

Women`s Day, since its inception, has placed emphasis on
the rights of working women, and on this occasion, the
government should promise better wages, lesser working hours
and better conditions for women working in organised and
unorganised sectors, Annie Raja, General Secretary of the
National Federation of Indian Women, said.

"Women in this country have achieved a lot, but compared
to India`s overall progress, women haven`t made much headway,"
Raja said.

A conscious effort should be made to remove the notion of
patriarchal society, and there should be a political will to
improve the condition of women economically, socially,
culturally and politically, she said, adding that greater
women`s representation in the Parliament would help in this