Manmohan calls for ‘broad consensus’ on women representation in politics

December 6th, 2007 - 4:16 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, Dec 6 (ANI): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today called for a ‘broad consensus’ on fixing the quota for representation of women in Parliament and state assemblies.
Singh chose the inaugural function of a two-day East Asia Gender Equality Ministerial meeting here to make his appeal for empowering women. He said that the social and economic empowerment of women is the corner stone of any sustainable strategy for poverty eradication.
“We are committed to providing similar representation to women in our state assemblies and the Parliament. We are working for a broad consensus on this matter. We firmly believe that the participation of a critical mass of women in politics at the highest level will bring about a revolutionary change in ensuring good governance,” Singh said.
Singh made a strong case for the education of the girl child saying that coupled with financial independence, it leads to empowerment and a firm foundation to fight violence against them.
“Gender equality is also a very powerful and effective weapon against extremism, fanaticism, fundamentalism and politics and social violence. In other words, gender equality is a building block of a secular and democratic edifice,” he added
Going beyond political representation, Dr. Singh said, We have recently taken steps to improve the gender balance in our budgetary policies. The Finance Ministry now prepares a gender budget that quantifies the Governments financial commitment to the cause of gender empowerment.
The Ministry of Women and Child Development is constantly interacting with these cells for building capacities and facilitating the integration of gender analysis into Governments policies, plans, programmes and budgets, he added.
Speaking on Self-Help Groups, he said these are an important initiative for achieving gender equality.
We have 2.2 million self-help groups located throughout the country, covering 33 million households, he sad.
Speaking on protection of women from domestic and social violence, he said, Our Government has taken legislative measures to protect women from such kind of violence. We are making our laws. But the real guarantee against violence against women is in our minds and attitudes. No law can substitute for a change in our mindsets. Renuka Chowdhury, Minister for Women and Child Development said that number of initiatives had been taken to improve the status of women and to empower them politically, educationally, economically and legally.
An inter-Ministerial committee has been constituted to look into the aspect of legal equality for women in all spheres and specially to remove discriminatory legislations and to enact new legislations for this purpose, she added.
She said that the Bills for Protection of Women from Sexual Harassment at workplace, Unorganised Sector Workers Social Security Bill and Amendment in the Maternity Benefit Act are on anvil.
Underlining the importance of economic empowerment of women, Chowdhury said, Unless women, who constitute half the population are able to gain from the benefit of economic liberalization, development would continue to be lopsided.
The two-day meeting is being attended by Ministerial level delegations from Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Lao, Peoples Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Mynmar, New Zealand, Phillipines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and representatives from international organizations including UNIFEM, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNDP, UNESCAP and UNODC. (ANI)

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