When men were first developing the idea of freedom and equality, all classes fought for their rights. The idea gradually began to form and took the shape that we see today. Along the way somewhere somehow a class was left behind, in between the clashes of swords and the brutality of wars, a section was neglected. The section was Women.
Women played a big role in this struggle, but when it was time to enjoy the benefits of the hard work, they were neglected. It was this neglect that gave birth to an entirely new agenda, the agenda of women’s equality. The women then began fighting for their rights as an individual who must be treated equal to men.
First they fought for equality in the family, then for equality in the society and the struggle has now gone outside the four walls of the house, women today seek equality in the political sphere too.
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
It was in the year 1993, when the women in the rural India were successful in getting 33% representation in the Gram Panchayat. It resulted in over one million women being elected to Panchayats all over the country.
In 1996 it went a step further and the Women’s Reservation Bill was first introduced in the parliament. It proposed for a reservation of 33% of all the seats in governing bodies at the centre, state & local level. This reservation was supposed was not permanent. It was for a period of 15yrs.
Yeah….that’s a long period I did say…….!!! But if it was long enough why is it, that the bill has been nothing but a topic for discussion for the last 18 years……?? Why has it been a tool used to woo women voters during elections only to be pushed aside later…??
The idea behind the fixed tenure is that it would give women the much needed push that will help them to grow and learn, after the period expires.
Still pending in the Lok Sabha the bill is being debated over without any considerable outcome. The first milestone achieved was that on March 9, 2010. The decision was celebrated by women all over the country.
THE GREAT DEBATE
Well the story is not as simple as it seems to be. Today there are around 60 women out of 545 members in the Lok Sabha i.e around 11% and women also have around 10.6% representation in the Rajya Sabha. That is indeed not a very good figure to look at, especially in a country where women are around 49-50% of the total registered voters.
We have many people who are against the women’s bill. Some are people who still cannot accept their daughters sitting amongst the men and being a part of the political discussion, whereas some others are afraid that women may come in the way of selection of potential candidates. This however is based on the assumption that women are less capable and cannot be better than the men.
Some argue that this bill would allow ministers to get their lost constituencies back by through their daughters and wives. This is a conclusion derived from the idea that women are simply puppets in the hands of their husbands and fathers. Whereas the women today are more self-dependent and reliable than they were ever before. To consider women as passive members is in itself the biggest misconception of our society.
Every time the women’s bill was there in the parliament it has been the cause of violence. The people who otherwise sit as gentlemen tend to lose their calm when they see the things going the opposite way.
Another clever reason given against the Women’s Reservation Bill is that it would favour the women of the elite group, such as daughters of wealthy business men and politicians to enter into politics. And this would in turn defeat the purpose of the entire bill.
Well to these people I would say, even today the women are not barred from entering politics and the women from these so called “elite group” can enter politics even today. They have all the money and power in their hands. The women who face difficulties are those who are not from this elite group, and the bill would pave the way for these potential women who in absence of money and muscle power are unable to get a seat.
“Women do not need such reservation, they are capable enough to do this on their own” This may sound like a feminist statement but according to me this is one of the most well crafted dialogues ever said against the bill, one that deceives the listener when they hear it for the first time. This is similar to saying that “the escalator in the upward direction would only slow you down and will take you to a lower level, try the stairs instead”. Anything done to support does not necessarily confirm the fact that the person being supported is weak. It only means that the support will help to achieve the outcome faster.
IN A NUTSHELL
Well these are never ending arguments based on irrelevant assumptions, a means to digress away from the real point. What we need now is an honest approach and a willingness to take women along with the development and create a world where equality exists in its truest and purest form.