On 14th September 2016,organizations dedicated to women’s rights, congregated to commemorate 20 years ofstruggle (1996-2016) demanding the fundamental right for equal participation of women in India in State Assemblies and the Parliament. The event was organized and attended by All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDMAM), TAS, All India Women’s Conference (AIWC), Angaja Foundation, Caritas, Conference of Religious India, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) Council for Women, Centre for Social Research (CSR), Delhi Parivarik Manch, Guild for Service, Jagori, Justice Seekers, Joint Women’s Programme (JWP), Nirbhaya Jyoti Foundation, Pink and Blue Foundation, Oxfam India, Swastik Mahila Samiti, Streekal, The Hunger Project, Vivat International India, War Widows Association, Women Power Connect, Youth Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) Delhi and Youth Men’s Christian Association YWCA of India and G.D Goenka University.
When the Women’s Reservation Bill was re-introduced in the year 2010 (after being introduced for the first time in the year 1996), it was passed at the level of Rajya Sabha raising the hope of women of India that the Lok Sabha will also pass it. Unfortunately it was stalled in the Lok Sabha. Once again women were disappointed. It was evident that the male members in parliament did not want to give up their seats for women. As organizations dedicated to women’s rights, women have consistently issued memorandums in the last one year to the presiding Government, urging them for placing this issue as a socially significant one and taking action on it. Dialogues with political stakeholders like the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs (MoPA) and women minority leaders like Najma Heptullah yielded political consent and support for the women’s reservation bill; yet MoPA when visited by women representatives informed them that he has still not started the process to build a consensus on the same in December. Women’s organizations want their political right in the parliament and assemblies. The present govt. in its election manifesto had promised not 33% but 50 % reservation of seats in parliament to ensure that women not only get a politically significant role but also the right to co-steer decisions for the development of the society as a whole- along with men towards progress. The Women’s Reservation Bill is not something that we ought to beg or plead for. This is our fundamental right as a citizens of the country.
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