Battle For Representation - Eastern Mirror
Monday, March 04, 2024

Battle for Representation

By The Editorial Team Updated: Sep 19, 2023 11:53 pm

The government of India has introduced the Women’s Reservation Bill in the Lok Sabha, seeking to provide 33 per cent reservation for women in the lower house of the Parliament and state assemblies for a period of 15 years. The bill also proposed 1/3rd quota for Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Caste within the reservation for women. Once approved, the number of women MPs in the Lok Sabha will increase from the current 82 (15%) to 181. The bill states that the reservation will be implemented only after the delimitation exercise is completed, thus hinting that it is unlikely to be implemented in next year’s Lok Sabha polls but probably extend to 2029. With the Congress having welcomed the move, terming it as its long-standing demand, and other political parties too unlikely to oppose, the deck is more or less cleared for change. However, the delay in delimitation exercise could stand in the way if one is to go by how it has been dragged for more than a decade in some states, including Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh due to the political situation. The Centre, now, faces the challenge of resolving the standing issues that have been preventing the conduct of delimitation exercise in these northeastern states all these years.

For Nagaland, the newly introduced bill will come as a shot in the arm for women who have faced gross under-representation both in the Lok Sabha and the state assembly for decades. Rano M. Shaiza is the lone woman from the state to be elected to the Lower House of the Parliament since the attainment of statehood in 1963, while Salhoutuonuo Kruse and Hekani Jakhalu of NDPP made history this year by becoming the first women to be elected to the NLA. The urban local bodies (ULBs) election in the state has been put on halt for years as civil society organisations objected to 33% reservation for women. This speaks volumes of Nagaland women’s position in the decision-making bodies and it certainly doesn’t reflect well on the state. However, the Women’s Reservation Bill, if passed, will make a significant change to the state’s political scenario, taking the strength of women legislators in the NLA from the current two (about 3.33%) to at least 20 in the 60-member Assembly. Being a part of the highest decision-making bodies will surely empower women, give them the voice to speak up against injustice and contribute to the growth of the society. Now, political parties should not play spoilsports by derailing the bill like in the past.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Sep 19, 2023 11:53:10 pm
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