Published: Thu, September 21, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Sonia Gandhi asks PM Modi to pass Women's Reservation Bill

Sonia Gandhi asks PM Modi to pass Women's Reservation Bill

It had been passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2010 but could not be taken up for discussion in the lower house.

The Women's Reservation Bill - which provides for one-third of the seats in national and state assemblies to be reserved for women - has the potential to become one of the most empowering laws for women in India, activists say.

Opposition leader Sonia Gandhi's letter to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi nudging him to take advantage of his government's majority in parliament to give more power to women has drawn jeers from the BJP. It lapsed after the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha in 2014 following BJP's win.

This bill, if brought into effect, will provide India a stronghold towards women empowerment, as the current global average of seats for women in the parliament is a mere 24.1 percent. However, this is the highest number of Women MPs ever elected to the Lok Sabha.

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She further wrote that: "I am writing to request you to take advantage of your majority in the Lok Sabha to now get the Women's Reservation Bill passed in the Lower House as well".

Pledging her party's support to the women's reservation bill, Sonia reminded the PM that in 1989 former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi tried to push quota for women in the local bodies but the move was thwarted in the Rajya Sabha and the party could succeed in getting it parliamentary approval in 1993 through the 73rd and the 74th constitution amendments.

"The male legislators who resisted the bill have fewer seats in parliament now and do not command so much influence, so I am optimistic that we could see the bill being passed soon", said Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social Research. In fact, the UPA's common minimum programme of 2004 and 2009 included the Women's Bill.

"History will remember the revolutionary reforms through the codification of Hindu Civil Code in 1955 despite vehement opposition from the right-wing forces to grant equal rights to women", it said. Hope PM Narendra Modi will ensure that the majority in Lok Sabha wouldn't be wasted this time too and pass the Bill that has seen political rivals coming together to forge a new, shared and progressive future together.

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