Twenty seven years after it was first taken up by Parliament for deliberation through the introduction of the Constitution (81st Amendment) Bill, 1996, in the 11th Lok Sabha, the Women’s Reservation Bill has been tabled yet again. At the time of writing this, the cabinet approval has come, the bill has been tabled and hope has been rekindled.
A 33 per cent reservation for women is important to ensure that women don’t just get more seats as equals at the table, but perhaps build their own table in time and invite all to it.
Women need more than just schemes. They need power. That power has been long due. Women have fought hard for this.
There have always been two worlds. One of men and one made up of women. These two worlds need a bridge. There must be reservation to compensate for the historical injustices and violence against women and the unequal distribution of resources. Women MPs account for only about 15 per cent of the Lower House’s strength, while their representation is below 10 per cent in many state assemblies. That’s not enough.
Women’s participation is a must for genuine democracy and gender equality. Feminists across the world have struggled for decades to give women voting rights and have been demanding more political participation.
It is time that women get their due and this doesn’t become a mere political gimmick ahead of the 2024 General Elections. The reservation is about dignity and democracy. It is about all of us.
Outlook’s next issue will be dedicated to women. The image of a woman by artist Bharti Kher represents us. A shield to protect and no weapons.