Write a letter to your friend for the issue of reservation for women in Indian legislatures

Write a letter to your friend for the issue of reservation for women in Indian legislatures

Kuku Gidhwani,
New Delhi,
August 10, 2010

My Dear Andy,

You have shown curiosity about the ongoing controversy about Women's Reservation Bill in our Parliament. It is quite amusing farce that politicians have made of this serious issue. You know that atrocities on women is a major problem faced by women all over the world. Indian record in this regard has been a paradox. While there are women Prime Ministers, Chief Ministers and women holding administrative posts, they are still a neglected lot in India. They are subjected to domestic violence and harassment on the roads and their places of work.

Now the reservation for women in the legislature is hanging fire since 1996. Every time the Women's Reservation Bill come up for discussion in the Parlia¬ment, the political parties shy away from it on one pretext or the other. It is an irony that every party has welcomed it in the hope that other parties will scuttle it. The BJP insists on consensus knowing well there will be no consensus. The Congress is ready to support it knowing that other smaller and regional parties want reservations for S.C., S.T. and backward class women. And it will not happen.

We have already witnessed a great success of reservation of women in the village panchayats. It is not understood why political parties in India are against the reservation of women in Centre and State legislatures. Indian women have been fortunate enough to enjoy equality with men at least on paper. If we study the history of the world, we will find that women in Switzerland got the right to vote only twenty years ago. Even women in England had to struggle for their political rights. Muslim countries in the Persian Gulf have come forward to give rights to their women very belatedly.

In India, women are free to join any political party and contest elections from any part of the country. However, Women's Reservation Bill will make it mandatory that one-third of the total seats should be reserved for women candidates. It is not in the interest of smaller parties because most of the parties have even less than 5-10 of their representatives. Marxist party, Socialist party of Mulayam Singh, RJD party of Laloo and Shiv Sena are the main objectors to the reservation of women.

In my opinion reservation of women in Parliament or State legislature is just playing with the idea of emancipation of women. Reservation or no reservation, emancipation of women lies within women themselves. Reservation policy is not going to solve the problem of dowry and inferior status of women in the field of marriage. No legal remedy, whatsoever, has been able to curb dowry evil in India. Dowry deaths have been on the increase even among the highly educated women because there has not been any change in the psyche of male dominating society.

Therefore, I personally believe that no amount of higher education, equality for women enshrined in our constitution has been able to confer equality in prac¬tice. Women have to wage struggle to achieve equality and awaken the concept of equality in men. They must begin it first with their parents and then parents- in-law and society. Awakening among women is the need of the day.
With best wishes,

Yours sincerely,