I was really in for it when the stalwarts of our democracy decided to flaunt the much hyped and the little bit controversial women’s reservation bill in both houses of the parliament earlier this month. Soon after this decision was made, there were hues and cries from all over the country, most staunchly defending and wooing for the bill while some openly crying against it.
In all my heart I hope that the bill would come into effect and that there would be the prescribed 1/3 reservation for women in parliament and all democratically elected bodies, but that’s what my heart wants and not what my demented little brain agrees to.
So here I am just trying to put together the loads of crap that are running in my head regarding this issue. I might be called a MCP after this attempt of mine, but the truth being I really believe the women in our country deserves much more than a mere 33 % reservation.
1. My first issue is whether we want the participation of the women in the policy making of the parliament to be always restricted to 33%?
What I cannot make out is why just 33% and how did they come at this math?
Let’s say we have a women population of 47% and if the intention is to get a fair representation for women, then shouldn’t the reservation be 47%?
2. Equality is one of the corner stone of our constitution though in reality it doesn’t exist in the least. The good intention of the bill is to bring about equality of sexes perceiving that a mere 33% women in the all the legislative assemblies would bring about a vast change in the gross inequality and injustice that our women are facing? For politically empowering women, the change has to start from the grass root level itself.
3. If we have a reservation for women in the assemblies and not enough women in the grass root level of the political parties,a situation would arise where the women who would contest elections in those reserved seat be a mere puppet in the hands of the male leaders .It would lead to more RABRI DEVIs in the Indian political scenario than more MAYAWATIs or GAURI AMMAs.
We should initially make sure that there are women involved in the day to day activities of political parties or maybe a reservation system there where in number of women should be so and so percentage within the party itself. This would bring more capable ,socially motivated women into the mainstream and they would be able to bring about a change and empower politically, socially and economically deprived women than a hot shot, daughter/wife of a pot bellied political leader .
4. One of the staunchest arguments in support of this bill I have heard is that women could not do any worse off than the present horde of men making the policies. What kind of an argument even for the argument sake is that?
During my stint at working in a corporate environment and working alongside many women, I have seen that they are much better than their male counterparts in whatever they do even after taking care of hordes of personal things that we(men) cannot even imagine doing. If that’s the case, then y have a bill because women can’t do any worse and not because they can do wonders?
5. One of the biggest flaws inherent in the bill is the rotation of seats reserved .Let us consider a constituency reserved for women in the first tenure and the woman who gets elected does a great job for the people in that constituency .When the next election comes ,that particular constituency would not be a reserved one and hence the woman who has put so much of effort for the well being of constituency would very well be replaced by a male candidate because most political parties would not want to give seat for women other than the reserved ones. So that means the work the elected woman candidate does in her constituency wouldn’t do her any good as she would be forced to contest in another place the next time around.
6. Legislators would not be elected based on merit if there is reservation ---This is one of the biggest criticism about the bill … I don’t think that is a big issue as 80% of the present lot in the parliament also don’t merit to be there in the first place but I sincerely hope the women who make it to the parliament would not be mere pushovers.
Even with all these issues, I hope the bill will go through .It may not bring about a whole lot of change that the women in our country deserve but it is something worth a try. Who knows, maybe it really can make a difference.
This article is in no way an opposition to the proposed bill, instead its just a mere reminder that women empowerment should not just stop with a bill assuring reservation in the legislative assemblies but should be the first step for a broader ,visionary policy.