People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Vol. XXX

No. 32

August 06, 2006

Women’s Reservation Bill: UPA Govt Put On Notice 


TEN national women’s organisations have issued notice to the UPA government that they will not brook any further delay in passage of the 33 per cent Women’s Reservation Bill. They demanded at a press conference in Delhi that there should no more postponement in the guise of “consensus.” 


The organisations decided to hold a three-day dharna on Parliament Street near Jantar Mantar to compel the government to take action. If their demand is not fulfilled, women’s organisations have asserted that the campaign will intensify, and spread to all parts of the country. 


The ten organisations are: All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), All India Women’s Conference (AIWC), Centre for Women’s Development Studies (CWDS), Forum for Rights of Children (FORCES), Guild of Service Joint Women’s Programme (JWP), Muslim Women’s Forum (MWF), National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), SAMA and YWCA of India 


Those who addressed the press meet were Mohini Giri from Guild of Service, Jyotsna Chatterjee from JWP and YWCA, Annie Raja from NFIW, Sudha Sundararaman from AIDWA, and Mary John from CWDS.


They noted that there has been a positive change in the stance of some of the alliance partners. This should be made into an opportunity, and the original Bill should be introduced in parliament immediately for an open discussion. After members move their amendments, the Bill should be put to vote. The Congress should take the responsibility and ensure that this gets done, they demanded.


The following is the text of the appeal issued on this occasion by the ten women’s organisations:


FOR ten years the 33 per cent Women's Reservation Bill has been pending before parliament. It is on the election manifesto of every national party, but has not got translated into law, though promises have been made in abundance. Every conceivable alternative has been proposed, but these have proved at best impractical and at worst deliberate attempts to divert the Bill from its main objective of providing one-third representation for half the population of India. Though women make a significant contribution to the economy and society, they are today grossly underrepresented in parliament and state assemblies.


The monsoon session of parliament has not included the Bill in its list of business, and we, the women’s organisations, who have been fighting consistently for its passage, understand that without widening and intensifying the struggle, this Bill is never going to see the light of day.


We have called for a 3-day dharna at Jantar Mantar jointly, in which we will highlight the importance of the Bill. On August 2, we will highlight the issue in the context of the elected representatives at panchayat and state level, who will be participating in the dharna. On August 3, we will focus on professionals and working women in different spheres, who will also be taking part. On August 4, there will be a mass mobilisation of the “aam aurat” to remind the government about its commitment on this issue.


We request you – men and women from all walks of life – to extend your support in every possible way. We hope women employees will join us in large numbers on August 3, and also participate in the rally to parliament scheduled for 12 pm that day. Students, youth, and all working people – your support is essential to get this important demand fulfilled. 


We would also like to ask artists, musicians, theatre groups, and other cultural activists to come to the venue and express their views through their diverse art forms.


We invite you to come, take a stand, and be part of this movement for a stronger and more vibrant democracy. (INN)