Saturday, May 22, 2010

Women’s Reservation Bill, 2008

108th Amendment, 2008 of Indian Constitution popularly known as Women’s Reservation Bill has passed with high applause in the Rajya Sabha on March 9th 2010 significantly well-adjusted against the landmark of 100th years celebration of 8th March (World Women’s Day). The recommendations of the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution (81st) Amendment Bill, headed by Geeta Mukherjee (Communist Party of India MP), in 1996 have formed the basis for a broad concensus on this significant amendment. It was broadly intended to ensure one third reservation of seats for women in State Legislatures and Parliament initially for fifteen years on a rotational basis. An unceasing efforts of women’s organisations have virtually made this amendment possible.

The concept of reservation for women came to the forefront for the first time in the 1920s when it was felt necessary during the Montague Chelmsford Reforms Act 1919. The british floated the proposal of reservation against universal franchise. During formation of the Constituent Assembly, Bharati Ray, the great historian spoke against reservation on behalf of women, for equality as against preference. But, the declining trend in the number of women legislators forced the Parliament and its committees to rethink on the subject.

The first positive move in this regard was taken by Rajiv Gandhi; he voiced forth to materialize reservation for women in the Panchayati Raj Institutions and was scripted in the Constitution through the 73rd and 74th Amendments in 1992 and 1993 respectively.

The campaign for 33 percent reservation was led by a coalition of women’ organisation at the national level including AIDWA (All India Democratic Women’s Association), AIWC (All India Women’s Conference), JWP (Joint Women’s Programme, NFIW (National Federation of Indian Women) and YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Organisation).

It is true that 108th Amendment will give political freedom to the women of india; they have to be more responsible towards the Constitution as well. It is for sure that the Indian womenfolk moves a step closer to gender equality.

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