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Demand for women's reservation bill gains momentum

IANS  |  New Delhi 

Members of parliament and women's rights groups Thursday together pushed for the passage of the pending Women's Reservation Bill in the ongoing session of parliament.

The bill proposes to reserve 33 percent of seats for women at all levels of legislature and will ensure that their right to participate in is upheld.

Passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2010, it is still awaiting the Lok Sabha's approval.

"We want to ask the MPs (members of parliament) what they feel about the bill, and when they plan to table it in parliament," Centre for Social Research (CSR) director Ranjana Kumari said.

"We have been fighting for the last 17 years. Until when will it be stalled despite the Rajya Sabha passing it with 2/3rds majority?" she added.

The rights organisations represented the Time for 33 Percent Coalition - an alliance of institutions working in the field of women's rights and social action.

The event was attended by various parliamentarians, including Devi Prasad Tripathi (Nationalist Congress Party), Bhakta Charan Das (Congress), and Shivanand Tiwari (Janata Dal-United).

Tripathi said the bill is of utmost importance to the party and it was trying to get it passed with immediate effect by talking to other parties.

"We wanted the reservation percent be increased taking the population and equality into consideration. This reservation is linked to women empowerment and safety. It is unfair to not give them their rights," he said.

"In a democratic country, where the Constitution speaks of equality, it is unfortunate to see the number of women in the entire population and also in parliament. This is a kind of injustice which has been carrying on for too long," Tripathi added.

He said: "We are urging members to at least let parliament function and discuss a few important bills, including the Women's Reservation Bill."

Amid calls of an equal representation in the political sphere and a more inclusive governance, Ranjana Kumari said this is a nation-wide fight and a lot of women have come out to protest the delay in the passage of the bill.

Rajya Sabha member Amar Singh said despite worshiping women (goddesses) according to Hindu mythology, we do not respect them in our lives.

"I too had opposed the bill as part of the Samajwadi Party, and I apologise for doing so. But now I am not a party member and wholeheartedly support it," he said.

He, however, added that he is skeptical of the passage of the bill in this session because of the way parliament is functioning.

"Not a single day has the house functioned properly. I want to say that we can at least devote one hour to the bill which has already been passed (in the Rajya Sabha) before adjourning the house," he said.

The members of the women organisations are determined to take their fight forward.

Mahila Congress's Shobhna Shah said if the MPs were really practicing what they preach, the bill would have been passed until now.

"The bill has to pass at any cost. Women have achieved success in various fields all my themselves. Unfortunately, this is not possible in because men rule here. But we are not going to stop our fight," she said.

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First Published: Thu, December 12 2013. 18:12 IST