Women’s groups in India suggest dual-member constituencies

Women activists from over 50 women’s organisations from eight states in the country have suggested amendments to the Women’s Reservation Bill, including doubling of existing seats by converting all seats of the Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies into dual-member constituencies to elect one man and one woman each.

“A force needs to be created to address this issue and build a consensus campaign for women’s reservation,” said Medha Nanivadekar, national president of Bharatiya Stree Shakti, the women’s organisation that is spearheading this movement. Speaking at a news conference she said, “We are going to start a campaign with fellow activists in different cities.”

The women’s organisations and NGOs have proposed dual-member constituencies that would elect 543 men and 543 women to the Lok Sabha without changing the number or boundaries of existing constituencies.

The Women’s Reservation Bill hasn’t been passed by the parliament for the last 13-odd years. “Fact is, there are several lacunae in this Bill. Unless these are taken care of, it won’t do justice to women’s reservation in Parliament,” pointed out Smrutika Patil, who consults at the Kolhapur-based women’s organisation Saad-Sanvad.

Speaking about the morcha held by women protestors in Delhi on Thursday, Nanivadekar said, “There was a broad range of political ideologies of the women protesting. But we all felt that women should be represented in equal numbers in parliament. Our country’s population has increased manifold since the first general election. So it’s high time we had many more women representatives in parliament. A mere right to vote does not allow a woman political participation,” she added.

The biggest lacuna in the current Women’s Reservation Bill is rotational reservation that intends to ensure 33 per cent representation of women by removing these many men from the Lok Sabha, she said. “Male members in parliament feel threatened by rotational reservation. Actually, rotational reservation is damaging to both men and women. That’s why we are suggesting a win-win situation through our proposal.”



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