Women`s quota sans capacity-building won`t work: Pak activist

With the civil society in India pushing for the women`s reservation bill, its counterparts from Pakistan today had a word of advice.

New Delhi: With the civil society in India
pushing for the women`s reservation bill, its counterparts
from Pakistan today had a word of advice -- without capacity
building of MPs coming through such a quota, the measure may
not actually work for women`s welfare.

"It is important to ensure how effective are the women
lawmakers who will come through quota. There should be
capacity building programmes for them. Women should be
sensitised on women`s issues, otherwise it would not work,"
said social activist Mossarat Qadeem, heading a 40-member
delegation of Pakistani civil society members here.

Addressing a seminar on `Women Empowerment: Are Men
Equal Partners?` organised by ASSOCHAM and Centre for Public
Policy, she said reservation for women in Pakistan legislative
bodies has made a "lot of difference". Qadeem also pitched for
giving a say to women of India and Pakistan in the peace

On the women`s quota bill in India, however, different
views emerged at the seminar.

Centre for Social Research president Ranjana Kumari
said the passing of the legislation is the "only way" for
women`s empowerment and parties supporting it should master
"courage and political will" rather than "hiding behind" the
"handful of" opposing parties.

NCP MP Supriya Sule said there are apprehensions that
the bill might not be cleared due to the strong pressure being
built against it but women MPs will continue to push for it.

Editor of `Manushi` magazine Madhu Kishwar, however,
felt the bill in its present form has a lot of problems,
including the "lottery system" for designating reserved seats
and favoured an amendment in the Representation of People Act
to compel parties to give 33 per cent tickets to women.

"Without rectifying the flaws in our democratic and
electoral system, only raising the logic of quota comes from
the jenana dabba (ladies compartment) mentality," she said.

Speaking at the seminar, Planning Commission member
Syeda Hameed said the 12th Plan period approach paper will
narrow down prevailing gender biases. Gender budgeting was
also done in the 11th Plan, she noted.

"The Commission would do its best in bridging
prevailing gender biases, not only from employment perspective
but to address concerns and issues of discrimination against
them and recommend higher allocation at policy level," she

On the occasion, joint findings of ASSOCHAM and Centre
for Public Policy were released which showed that women`s
representation in decision and policy making in large
companies was less than 2 per cent.

The findings further reveal that about 20 per cent
women are engaged in services sector. Of this, 8 per cent is
hired for financial services while 10 per cent are in media
and entertainment sector.


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