As we know, the “Women’s Reservation Bill (The Constitution 108th Amendment Bill 2008)“, is independent India’s longest pending bill, it has been pending for last 22 years. Women of India are struggling to get this bill passed, but to no avail.
Even after 70 years of independence the government has not passed the Women’s Reservation Bill (WRB), the Bill that ensures a minimum of 33% of total seats reserved for women in Lok Sabha of Parliament and in State Legislative Assemblies.
The bill was passed in Rajya Sabha in 2010 but has been bypassed by Lok Sabha intimating lack of consensus among political parties with respect to the Bill.
But the election manifestoes of all major political parties during 2014 Lok Sabha election, political party wise seat arrangements in the 16th Lok Sabha as well as structure of State governments all over India have a different story to tell and they collectively nullify the claim that consensus for passage of WRB does not exist among political parties.
To take up this issue at larger level, under the leadership of Dr Ranjana Kumari, an alliance of various organizations and individuals was formed three years ago, called “National Alliance for Women’s Reservation Bill“. The Alliance is undertaking various activities at multiple levels to influence decision makers to get the Bill tabled and passed by Parliament (Lok Sabha) and by more than half of the State Legislatures.
To discuss the issue of WRB, delegate members of the National Alliance have met leaders of various political parties and come up to the conclusion that most of the political parties including BJP, INC, DMK, JDU, NCP, CPI, CPM, AAP and others support passage of this Bill. So, we are of the opinion that there is no question of lack of consensus among political parties for passage of this Bill. Its only the patriarchal mind set and deep rooted economic interest that the Bill has been stalled for so long.
After Ms Sonia Gandhi wrote letter to Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji in the month of September, 2017, asking him to use his majority to pass the WRB in Lok Sabha, people were hopeful, the Bill will find its place during winter session of Parliament 2017. But the Bill was not included in the agenda of the winter session, and it was a great disappointment to alliance members as well as to women as a whole.
To seek the attention of Government towards this Bill, a foot march called “Attention seeking Foot March” was organized by the Alliance.
Initially the police denied the permission to hold the foot march on 13.12.2017, but as a result of quick persuasion by representatives of Centre for Social Research, the foot march could be allowed to be held.
The foot march was held on 13.12.2017 from Palika Bazar Park, to Central Park at Connaught Place, New Delhi, from 12 noon to 2 pm.
The march was led by Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Director, Centre for Social Research, and attended by hundreds of women from various organizations, including Centre for Social Research, Joint Women’s Programme, Muslim Women’s Association, YWCA of India, YWCA of Delhi, Justice Seekers and other organizations.AAP MLA, Ms Alka Lamba also addressed to the Rally.
The Rally was widely covered by print and electronic media.
We are continuing our efforts at multiple levels and for passage of this Bill, and hopeful the Bill will certainly be listed in the agenda of next session of parliament.
Written by: Archana Jha