On Wednesday, 15th November, the National Alliance for Women’s Reservation Bill organized a press conference at the Press Club of India, Delhi, to speak on the issue of the passage of the long standing bill in Lok Sabha. Studies show that India stands at a pitiable 103rd place out of 140 countries in terms of women in parliament and state assemblies. Although several countries of the world are witnessing an increase in the number of women in politics, India continues to lag behind with a dismal representation of women in Parliament and State assemblies. Centre for Social Research, as part of the National Alliance for Women’s Reservation Bill, has been actively working towards the passage of this bill for many years now.
In her opening statements, Dr Ranjana Kumari said that this issue is not just relevant to urban, educated women- even rural, illiterate women are demanding the passage of this bill, and various resolutions have been passed in this regard. She talked of the Women’s Studies Centre being shut down in University of Delhi, and reiterated that the government hasn’t been fulfilling its promises. She went on to question the role of the existing female parliamentarians, who are playing the game strategized by their male counterparts.
Ms Sarah Pilot, Director of Centre for Equity and Inclusion, said that this is not time for excuses, and on paper, there seems to be no problem, as there is consensus among all parties, and all people regarding the importance of this bill – it is only when the time to pass it arrives, that all disagreements seem to crop up.
Dr Anjali Mehta, questioned the government’s indifference- when this Bill concerns almost 50% of the country’s population, and is sure to benefit society as a whole, why is everyone silent? She urged members of the press to take these points to the general public, so that there is mass mobilization.
Ms Jyotsna Chatterjee, President and Secretary of Joint Women’s Programme, said that the National Alliance has met many government representatives and lamented on the apathy on the part of the government, despite the numerous atrocities committed against women. She said that the responsibilities bestowed upon women cannot be fulfilled, due to lack of equal representation in legislature.
Ms Asha, Chairperson of Nirbhaya yoti Trust, said that while all political parties speak of women empowerment in their manifestos, no one talks of women’s rights. She urged women from all strata of society to come together and raise their collective voices for the passage of this bill.
Ms Husna talked about the role of media, and requested journalists to urge their respective media houses to speak about this Bill.
After the opening statements, members of the audience, consisting of journalists as well as other organizations, asked various questions regarding the passage of the bill.
The press conference was covered by various media houses. Following are a few links-