‘I am not for the 33percent reservation of women in Parliament’

via Dr Mrs Hilda Raja published on March 11, 2010

It was shocking for a few women when I told them that I am not for the 33percent reservation of women in Parliament. Knowing my firm stand on woman’s issue this came as a shock to them. Not only today on those Women’s Day right down from 1996 when as a speaker/chief guest I have addressed meetings. I used to be wary to broach the topic but when questioned I had to be truthful. I knew that it was unpalatable to most of the women audience.

What are my reasons?

   1. What is so sanctimonious about the figure 33%?This is not the subsidy given by banks for the SCs and OBCs  under the IRDP. I just cannot comprehend how the politicians who consider themselves champions of women’s empowerment picked up the 33percent.What is the logic? Why not 50%.Does it mean women representation in Parliament will be capped at 33percent? Till how long? Then will there be a need to bring in another amendment to remove that? If one is to go by gender breakup, women form more than 50 percent of the population.

   2. How can Parliament be bend on making Unconstitutional matters constitutional by three fourth of the members voting for it. So if a day comes when ¾ of the members vote the Constitution as unconstitutional will it become valid? It is clearly stated that discrimination on the basis of gender is unconstitutional so what are these so called champions of women voicing and voting for-something that the Founding Fathers put in black and white-Equality –irrespective of gender and religion. Religious equality has gone under the carpet with the Ministry of Minority affairs sitting over a budget and with a PM stating that Muslims have the first claims to development and its resources.

   3. Does more women in Parliament mean more power to women? Does it proportionately increase the empowerment of women on the streets-the working women, those who today are struggling with a hand to mouth existence So what does an increase of 33 percent of women MPs mean? There are 61 women MPs in Parliament today. We hardly hear them take part in meaningful debates-Except for Brinda Karat, Mamta and Sushma Suraj. Even Mrs Sonia Gandhi sits like a sphinx in the front row. Twice MP like Priya Dutt has not opened her mouth in Parliament. So more women in Parliament means -more debates-more issues of women will be raised and aspirations of women and their empowerment will be handed over on a platter?

   4. Empowerment does not flow from above – Not that empowerment of the ordinary women will not take place. It will, but this will be a block. Strange it may sound but an incisive analysis will prove. The elite women are the ones who will make it to the Parliament at this point of time. Those with political clout and with money Even today right from the President of India, to the Speaker power has come to them through their fathers. Every single case except a couple of MPs fall in this category. Will the 33% not be a repeat of this?

   5. Not even developed countries where women have more empowerment have this kind of a perception to link empowerment of women to their representation in Parliament.

      6. By achieving this 33% a false sheen is given to the women in India-Still slogging away at half the wages of men, and suffering from economic dependency, still oppressed by dowry, discriminated, still unwanted and hence  rampant female feticide and infanticide, still unsafe in their work places et al

 7.  Personhood of woman in India is not even recognized. Hence in all the governmental forms the mother’s name as parent does not suffice. The father’s alone gives

      legitimacy. Even for an adult woman either her father’s name and or husband’s name is a must. All these are indicators that a woman cannot and is not

perceived as a person-independent. She stands as a daughter of so and so and a wife of so and so and a mother of so and so that brings and defines her status.

8.      Here comes a legislation to complete that dependency syndrome-she needs to be cocooned in a ËœReserved’ constituency-a  safe place to move up to. It must be borne in mind that Reservation business has not be the solution-it continues making people backward and more backward and dependent. Now the women will be caught in the same net.

9          It is an exploitation of women because in the World Development index such a 33% women MPs will push India higher than most of the developed countries-which is contrary to the ground reality .It is in no way a reflection of the ground reality and hence women are being used to boost the ego of the most powerful woman as though under her patronage Indian women have been empowered. This is a complete faked up, morphed picture of the whole empowerment struggle of women in India.

10       A plea to the media-both electronic and print-spare the women from your sound bytes and write-ups on how women have achieved empowerment through this legislation. It is a farce and a regression. No empowerment can take place in reservations and certainly not in the magic number of 33%. It will be like pouring oil in burning fire.

11      When Mrs Sonia Gandhi supported the rise in fuel price she hit hard at the women and with one body blow  put her down With the PM -the great economist  stating that a rise in fuel price will not necessarily increase the index of food he was taking  an anti-woman stand. Because it they who grapple with the cooking the food for the family. And because till date the majority of the women eat the last in the family and that what is left .Does the PM and Mrs Sonia Gandhi realize how the majority women  cannot afford ordinary food grains-dals, cooking oil, vegetables and here are our honorable the MPs taking of empowerment of women through the 33 percent reservation. They are even unable to perceive the aspirations of the ordinary women-to feed their children, to meet their everyday needs, and their other survival inputs. Who sits in Parliament and how many sit is not the proposition. But how many have the empathy, the understanding the courage to stand by them is the question.

12      Mrs Sonia Gandhi is not affected by the fuel price because she does not have a car-all cars are at her disposal for nothing. How the fuel price has a cascading effect on everything.Today be it the vegetable vendor, the provision shopkeeper when asked why the prices are steadily increasing the fingers are pointed at the budget. Women are struggling to keep the fires at the hearth burning – and those who sit in ivory towers think that accommodating more women in the ivory tower is EMPOWERMENT. Poor Indian women – cry my sisters for this great drama of deception.


Dr Mrs Hilda Raja


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