Women’s groups in India demand passing of quota bill
Last month more than 2,000 women from across the country came together for a protest march demanding passage of the women’s reservation bill in the Lok Sabha during the ongoing monsoon session of parliament. More than 350 NGOs took part in the rally. Donning blue caps with ’33 Percent’ written on it, women, joined by men, sang songs and shouted slogans as part of the protest.
One of the speakers, Ranjana Kumari, director Centre for Social Research, said they would not give up their struggle till the bill is passed.
“This is not the first time we are protesting. It is a struggle and we are not going to give up. If the bill has been passed by the Rajya Sabha, why is this delay in the Lok Sabha,” Kumari told the news agency.
Communist leader Brinda Karat, writer and lyricist Javed Akhtar, actresses Sharmila Tagore and Shabana Azmi, and Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan, among others, also joined in to show their support.
Javed Akhtar was loudly cheered by the crowd during his speech. “It is highly shameful that we have to ask for a right which should have been given to us without asking. But since this is not so, we have to raise our voice. I appeal to the government to take this decision in this session of Lok Sabha otherwise we will blame all those who were against the bill,” said Akhtar.
The rally comprised women from the villages, students from schools and colleges in the city – and everybody was determined to get their ‘right’.
“This is a fight for justice and not just an issue of women’s right. The women of this country are demanding what they should have been given long back,” said actress Shabana Azmi.
A few of the activists went to meet President Pratibha Patil.
“It is because of our constant struggle that this bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha even after so many people objected to it. In the name of consensus this bill should not be sabotaged,” Brinda Karat told the news agency.
The women’s reservation bill seeks to reserve 33 percent of seats in parliament and the state assemblies for women. The government hopes to introduce the bill in the Lok Sabha during the monsoon session.
The bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha March 9 during parliament’s budget session amid protests by the Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Janata Dal-United.
These parties are demanding a quota within a quota for Dalits, backwards and minorities.