The July 14 all-party meeting, like all of its predecessors, failed to arrive at any consensus on the passage of the women’s reservation Bill. It’s high time that the supporters of the Bill realised and accepted that the proposed legislation in its present form will never be passed by the Lok Sabha and devise alternate strategies. If they really care about increasing women’s representation, they must be willing to negotiate. Willingness to negotiate does not necessarily mean compromising with the cause.
For the last 15 years, the women’s reservation debate has focussed on the zero-sum game of throwing 181 male MPs out of the Lok Sabha to bring 181 women in. Therefore, it failed. Now we need to shift the women’s reservation discourse and link it to the need for increasing Lok Sabha’s size to make it more representative. Currently, 59 out of 543 constituencies are occupied by women. Let’s allow men to have these 59 consti-tuencies as well. Let’s have 543 men in the Lok Sabha, but let us also bring 543 women by converting all 543 constituencies into two-member constituencies to elect one man and one woman each.
Very few of us are aware that this second most-populous country has the 13th largest parliament, smaller than the constituent assembly of neighbouring Nepal with 594 members. At the local level, we have about three million elected representatives. In state assemblies, the number comes down to only 4,120, and in the Lok Sabha, only 543. At local levels, there is one representative for an average of less than 400 people. A member of a state legislative assembly represents about 3,00,000, and a Lok Sabha member over 22.2 million.
Do Women Really Work Harder Than Men? One of the standard feminist claims heard every March during International Womens Day and Womens History Month is that women do the work of the world. This argument was publicized by the United Nations during the 1970s (Women constitute one half of the worlds population [and] do two-thirds of the worlds work) and reinforced in 1995 with the release of its ...
India has the poorest representative-to-people ratio in the whole world when it comes to Parliament. In the US, where members of both houses of Congress are directly elected, there is one representative for 5,78,000 people; in Pakistan, about 5,40,000; and Bangladesh, 4,76,000. India ranks 97th on the basis of the percentage of women in Parliament, which is barely 10.8%, surpassed even by Pakistan (22.2%), Bangladesh (18.6%) and Nepal (33%).