Of Kashmiri Women and Reservation Bill
Will it really make any difference in empowering women who have been the victims of discrimination and male dominance for years now? Asks Andleeb Rasheed Shah.
The Women’s Reservation Bill is all set to be introduced anew in the Upper house of the Indian parliament. It has been a long wait of a decade and a half since the bill was first introduced. Baring a few parties there seems to be an overriding consensus in favour of the bill. The vital question however remains unanswered. Will 33 % reservation in parliament and state legislatures bring about any meaningful empowerment to a common woman? What would be the ramifications if the bill was
passed in its present form? And most importantly what are the implications for our state?
On the first look it appears a remarkable piece of legislation which seeks to empower the impoverished fairer sex. Women have and continue being discriminated against by those in power, invariably men. They have long been subjugated deliberately or otherwise underneath the traditional patriarcial society. History is witness that our state is no exception to this dictum of male dominance in all spheres of public activity. In all three organs of governance - legislature, executive and the judiciary, the representation of women has been grossly inappropriate. In continuation of this ugly trend, women continue being under-represented in all domains of public activity. A poor reflection on our strategy of inclusive growth and development.
In keeping with these facts, any affirmative action that seeks to uplift and empower women is commendable. The bill ensures that women get an opportunity to move beyond their traditional roles. It provides them a platform of making worthy contributions towards national growth and development. Besides being an effective agent of social change, women will get to make a positive impact on today’s political scene. Considering that politics today has sunk to abysmal standards, the presence of women will purge away some bad attributes. It will bring in a much needed positive change in today’s polity.
IMPORTANCE FOR OUR STATE:
J&K has been passing through tumultuous times in the recent past. The brunt of this turbulence has been borne by women especially that of the Valley. It is in this context that the Women’s reservation bill must be seen. Any empowerment stemming from this bill would be a remarkable "Healing Touch" to all those affected by the wrath of times. This bill also assumes importance considering that our womenfolk are grossly under represented in every walk of life, especially the political arena. The presence of well meaning women is not only solicited, it is imperative for future progress of our state .
But a word of caution. The passage of this bill, if and when, must result in true devolution of political power and decision making capacity to the women. It must not become a pliant tool in the hands of political parties to rope in women from the elite class. There is a genuine fear among some
quarters that the women candidates will be the kith and kin of those male politicians who could not contest the seat due to reservation for women. Such "shadow candidates" will defeat the very purpose of the bill and adequate safeguards must be ensured against such practices.
Further, women from the socially, economically and educationally backward classes must be given due protection in the bill and later in its implementation. It remains a fact that it is going to be difficult to shed the baggage of centuries of gender exploitation in a single stroke. Yet, as they say "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a small step". It remains to be seen whether this bill stays a small step for the fairer gender, or becomes a giant leap for womankind.
[Author is a management graduate working for women empowerment]
Lastupdate on : Sun, 28 Mar 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 28 Mar 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 29 Mar 2010 00:00:00 IST
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