Gender-sensitive Parliament can tackle social problems: Pranab



New Delhi: Pointing out that women's representation in the Indian Parliament was lower compared to other countries, President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday said a gender-sensitive Parliament could address social problems more insightfully.

"A gender-sensitive Parliament will have a greater success in achieving gender equality and prioritising subjects important to women," the President said while inaugurating the seventh Meeting of the Women Speakers of Parliament here.

The two-day event organised by the Inter-Parliamentary Union will see discussions on creating a gender-sensitive parliamentary environment.

Women, Pranab Mukherjee said, at present constitute 11 percent of the 15th Lok Sabha.

"This is a vast improvement from only five percent in the first Lok Sabha. Although the percentage of women parliamentarians has increased over the years, it is still lower in comparison to countries like Sweden, Argentina, the UK and the US."

"A gender-sensitive Parliament can address more insightfully the social problems that women face that are a blot on society -- like violence against women, female foeticide, trafficking of women and minor girls, their abuse and exploitation and the lack of medical and nutritional care of rural women," Mukherjee said.

While the President and Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar skipped mentioning about the pending women's reservation bill, Vice President Hamid Ansari said: "The gender profile in Indian Parliament is woefully lopsided with women constituting only around 11 percent of the total membership."

"Legislation reserving 33 percent of seats for women was passed in one House (Rajya Sabha) and has since been pending in the other," he said.

The Lok Sabha Speaker said a gender-sensitive Parliament, to her, was not only the one with sufficient representation of women, but also which enacted forward-looking legislations for women.

"A society which permits discrimination against women, therefore, has not even commenced its journey in the right direction," she said.

Abdelwahad Radi, the president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, said that only 20 percent of the world's parliamentarians were women.

"Ten years ago, that figure stood at 15 percent. Yes, some progress has been made but it is too slow. Globally, our parliaments fare better than our governments in this area. In fact, only 16 percent of ministers are women and a mere handful heads of state or government," he said.

IANS