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Pass The Women Reservation Bill Now - Press Release from The Alliance for 33%

by Anhad, 27 July 2010

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Press Release

New Delhi, 27 July 2010

The Alliance for 33%, a collective of more than 300 women’s groups, individuals, civil society organizations and networks from across India, is demanding the immediate passage of the 33% Women’s Reservation Bill by the current Lok Sabha. The Bill, which has already been passed by the Rajya Sabha, can become law only after it is passed in the Lok Sabha and endorsed by at least 15 state assemblies.

The Alliance is organizing a massive rally on 29 July 2010 at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi followed by a march to Parliament. Around 5,000 women from various parts of the country will be coming together for the rally.

At a press conference this morning, the Alliance for 33%, called on all political parties in Parliament to come together and ensure the smooth passage of the 33% Women’s Reservation Bill without delay. They also appealed to all progressive forces to strongly and vocally support the cause of women’s rights and equality in India.

Speaking at the press conference Annie Raja National General Secretary of NFIW said, "The UPA lacks the political will and social commitment necessary for getting the Bill passed by Parliament. The parties opposing the bill do not believe in gender equality. They are trying to prevent women from coming into mainstream politics.”

Jyotsna Chatterjee (JWP) said: "We have been waiting since 1995 for this legislation. If the government was serious about empowering of women it would have passed the bill by now. But there seems to be a lack of political will."

Beulah Shekhar of YWCA: "It is now or never! If we need to achieve the Millennium Development Goal No. 3 which aims at promoting gender equality and empowering women, India has to pass the Bill now. Will there be a better time than this? We think not. Using the excuse of the reservation within reservation to delay the bill is a gross violation of the CEDAW and the Constitution of India where Equality is emphasized”.

Sudha Sundararaman, General Secretary, AIDWA: “The passage of the 33% Women’s Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha on March 9th 2010, and its inclusion in the business list for the current of Parliament are the result of the relentless struggle waged by the women’s movement on this issue. For 14 long years, this Bill has been the victim of patriarchal ideology, and “consensus” politics that served to delay the Bill inordinately. AIDWA, along with other organizations and groups committed to women’s representation demands rectification of this gross injustice.”

She added, “The time for prevarication and delays in the name of a nonexistent consensus is past. We call on all the political parties committed to the strengthening of democracy to work for its passage in this parliamentary session, and take a historic step towards the equal participation of women in the highest decision making bodies of our country”.

Dr Ranjana Kumari, Center for Social Research: “The recent passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha, was one of the rare occasions when a political consensus was reached between the three major national parties- the BJP, the Congress, and the Left parties- representing the extreme political spectrum supported the Congress led bill. Today, all women’s organizations stand united for the cause and we the women of India will not give up till we have achieved our goal of sharing power for nation building. The Alliance for 33% group will use all democratic instruments at its command to persuade the government to take up the Bill during the monsoon session of Parliament.”

Shabnam Hashmi from ANHAD said “Conservative sections of society are using religion to tell us that a woman’s place is in the home. We reject their advice. The women of India, which ever religion they belong to, are capable of deciding their own life. We demand that the UPA does not give in to the feudal, conservative and patriarchal mindsets within various political and religious formations and ensure the passage of this Bill in the present session of Parliament”

Speakers also pointed out that: Ensuring reservations for women in the panchayats and urban local bodies has facilitated the entry of millions of women across the spectrum into the public arena. Today, women from all castes, classes, religions and regions are actively discharging their responsibilities as sarpanchs, panchayat members, Zilla Parishad chairpersons, block development officers, mayors and in innumerable other capacities in different states of India. These women have faced tremendous hurdles in their bid to participate in elections and assume leadership positions. Today they have emerged triumphant and are role models for their community and country. While their presence has great symbolic value, these women have also been able to bring to the fore many important social and gender concerns and agendas. This positive example needs to be strengthened and replicated at all levels.

"The Alliance for 33% representing over 321 organisations from all over the country demands that the Women’s Reservations Bill be passed now."

For further information, please contact:

  • Ms. Kalpana, Young Women’s Christian Association of India 9810026403
  • Mr. Amitabh Kumar, Centre for Social Research 9873620162
  • Ms. Shabnam Hashmi, Anhad 9811807558
  • Ms. Mansi Sharma, Anhad 9818809018

PROGRAMME BRIEF

Date/venue: 29th of July; Parliament Street, New Delhi

Starting 11 A.M., the gathering of thousands promises to be a massive show of strength in favour of the 33 per cent women’s reservation bill. From Brinda Karat, MP and General Secretary of the All India, Democratic Women’s Association, to actress Sharmila Tagore and Niyaaz Apa, a survivor of the 2002 Gujarat carnage, women and men from different walks of life will participate in the demonstration.

Women representatives of gram panchayats and leaders from the hinterlands – such as Sharmi Bai, the sarpanch from Sirohi district of Rajasthan to Sundi Bai, a sarpanch from Jhabua district in Madhya Pradesh and Deepa Negi, the sarpanch from district Nanital in Uttarakahand - are expected to be part of this huge demonstration.

Other speakers for the day include Aruna Roy, activist and member of the National Advisory Council; Annie Raja, General Secretary of the National Federation of Indian Women; Kavita Srivastava from the People’s Union of Civil Liberties; danseuse and activist Mallika Sarabhai; well-known poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar; Alka Lamba, Secretary All India Congress Committee (AICC); Kanimozhi, an MP representing the Dravida Munnetra Kazagham; Shabnam Hashmi from Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD); and Dr. Vimal Thorat from the All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch. Many young activists, college students are also expected to attend the demonstration.

Folk groups from Rajasthan, girls from the music society of the Lady Sriram College, activists from Jagori and ANHAD will perform at the occasion.