Women village leaders want quota within quota

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 19, 2010 13:30 hrs

Around 60 women village leaders Friday hailed the passing of the women's reservation bill in the Rajya Sabha but demanded a quota for Dalits and other backward classes (OBCs) for their proper representation.

At a conclave organised here by international NGO ActionAid, the women, representing village councils in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, urged political parties to take note of the discrimination against women within the backward classes.

They held that the 50 percent reservation of seats in panchayati raj institutions for women and the quotas for Dalit women from lower castes had proved beneficial.

Speaking about her experience as the head of the Jamlapur village in Uttar Pradesh, Sarvati Devi said: 'Being a woman from a Dalit community proved a great challenge for me. Finding support in the panchayat was very tough. But I did not give up and now they respect me and my community.'

Sunita Devi, who was elected the Phulwari Sharif village head in Bihar in 2006 on an OBC reserved seat agreed.

'I got elected from an OBC reserved seat for women. Now, women in my village don't look at the caste barrier before discussing their problems, all thanks to the reservation that will also help on the national platform,' she said.

The women's reservation bill, in the form of an amendment to the constitution, would secure 33 percent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha as well as the state legislatures. It was passed in the Rajya Sabha last week amid angry protests from a few political parties that also want a sub-quota for Dalits and OBCs.