If the Women`s Reservation Bill 2008 is really what it sounds to aim at – providing 33 per cent reservation for women in state legislatures and parliament i.e. seeking around 1,600 of the country`s most powerful 5,000 seats (approx) – there would be no need for the common woman to raise her voice for it. For, any woman who has the financial backing for election campaigns is already more empowered than an average Indian.
Why do we need reservation of MP seats in Parliament for women who can cough up huge sums for their netas and parties? When money and financial muscle power decide on the Parliamentary seats, the gender of the person really doesn`t matter.
Women deserve more
What has the quota system announced for the SC/ST community soon after independence yielded? The logic behind the system, to undo the injustice and oppression meted out to the communities for centuries, was laudable. However, even after 61 years of independence, the Indian parliament is still debating ways to improve the lives of these `backward` communities making the quota system sound hollow.
Similarly, if the Parliament now mulls over special quota for women upliftment, does it mean it that women were being suppressed for half a century in India? Does it mean that the feminine power has all along been suppressed by the male supremacy, and that too, in a land that claims to celebrate its women folk!
The entire quota system, be it for developing communities or women, sounds more like a confession of failure of the government machinery.
Even otherwise, what can reservation of parliamentary seats do than empower the already powerful? How can it help the casual women labourer on the road toiling day and night? How does it help the mute women panchayat leaders, who in reality do nothing more than serve tea, during the panchayat meetings presided by their husbands acting as de facto leaders? What about the lakhs of girl children in rural areas who are forced to fight oddities even to get basic education?
If women empowerment is the underlying idea of reservation, then it is more logical to focus on providing basic education for all women, especially in the lower and middle strata of the society. The focus should be on giving a life of dignity for women of all strata and societies, through education, which can help design our lives.
But again if the activists want to fight for a cause, ideally they should be forcing the government and others to ensure a secure environment for women not only in office but also on the roads. And may be even at home, why not?
If women empowerment is the crux of the issue, then the need here is not any quota or reservation but an attitudinal change among men of all social strata, which is achievable through basic education.
Look at it in another way! When educated women have the freedom to work and choose their career, why do we need a quota to be caught in? In such a scenario, a 33 per cent quota is just another way for men to limit women’s development.
And remember, if the quota system being mulled is similar those for caste-based communities, then would we not be able to have more than 33 per cent of jobs; which means it is another effort to limit women’s development.
If reservation in parliament is the only way out for upliftment of women, the question is why then limit it to only 33 percent. They say half of the world is filled with women, then why don’t we have 50 per cent reservation?
But honestly, why do we need quota to showcase equality when men and women are born equal. All that we need is basic education for all women. Have we forgotten the famous words: `When you educate a man, you help a family; when you educate a women, you help a society.`
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Oblivious to these bitter truths, if the country still goes ahead with 33 per cent reservation, we would all be reduced to nothing less than mere poster-girls of politics, with hardly any development.