PM reiterates commitment for quotas for women (Lead)

March 18th, 2011 - 4:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, March 18 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday reiterated his government’s commitment to providing reservations for women in local bodies, state legislatures and parliament, but agreed that giving women a political voice was a “major challenge”.

“We are committed to providing reservation to women to the extent of 50 percent in local bodies and up to a third in the state legislatures and in our parliament,” he said at the India Today conclave here.

But he agreed that the major challenge was to work out and implement effective strategies for gender equality.

“Our major challenge going forward is to give our women political voice and to work out and implement effective strategies for gender equality,” he added.

The bill, which was first introduced as the Constitution (81st Amendment) Bill Sep 12, 1996, is expected to be considered by the Lok Sabha in the current budget session. It is now called the Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill 2010.

It was passed by the Rajya Sabha in the last budget session in 2010, but could not be put to vote in the Lok Sabha as there was no consensus among political parties on the bill in its present form.

Leaders like Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad and Janata Dal-United’s Sharad Yadav are opposed to the bill — they want the government to provide a quota within quota for women from the backward castes and minorities. They also say the bill will only help women from rich families get elected.

The prime minister, however, stressed that the government had intensified efforts “for the emancipation of our women”.

“Our efforts to create equal educational opportunities through targeted programmes for girls’ education and specific economic programmes focused on women particularly through self-help groups are all gradually bearing fruit.”

He said the government had “sought to make political democracy meaningful through social democracy by addressing the specific needs of excluded or marginalised sections of our society like Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, minorities and women”.

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