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Women’s Reservation Bill 'unfavourable' to women going to State assembly polls till 2029

Counterview Desk 

Responding to the Women’s Reservation Bill, introduced in Parliament on September 19, the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) has said that, when passed, it will be implemented after a census and electoral delimitation exercise in 2029, adversely affecting women "as there will be elections to many States Assemblies before 2029."
In a statement, NFIW said, "Every time the Union government passes a Bill with the stated objective of it being beneficial to women, it means the exact opposite. It criminalized instant Triple Talaq, that has shattered families with men being arrested without proof. When the sole bread winner is jailed, where does it leave the women and children?"

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Founded in 1954, the National Federation of Indian Women has been spearheading the movement for political representation of women as a means of empowerment, along with strengthening and safeguarding their economic, social and human rights. Our leader and Member of Parliament, Late Geeta Mukherjee had spearheaded the campaign for political representation of women in decision making bodies like Parliament and state Legislative Assemblies. From 1996, she had been at the forefront of the Eighty First Amendment Bill, and later headed the Joint Select committee to finalize the Women’s Representation Bill that was later tabled and passed in the Rajya Sabha in 2010.
Since the first introduction of the Women’s Reservation Bill Lok Sabha in 1996, successive Governments have time and again provided frivolous reasons for the delay in passing of the Bill. The main reasons quoted was the need for further consideration and consensus between political parties, notwithstanding the fact that for any Amendment to the Constitution, two-third majority is the criteria.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks with regard to passing the Bill in the Lok Sabha was the patriarchal approach that women are either incompetent at governance or disinterested. The implementation of the Bill at Panchayat and Municipal levels across various states proved the critics wrong. As women were being maligned for being paper representatives of their husbands and male members of their families, women in Panchayats and Municipal bodies proved the world wrong by bringing in significant changes in administration that improved lives of communities at large.
As the BJP-led NDA government was not responding to the demand for the passage of the Bill, since it came to power in 2014, NFIW filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court and the Hon’ble SC sent notices to the Union government and all those political parties which mentioned its support in their respective Election Manifestos. But the Union Government did not file its response, as a result on 5 September 2023 a bench headed by Justice Sanjiv Khanna had questioned the Central government about its reluctance to file a response, as to why it is not tabling the bill in the Lok Sabha.
NFIW is deeply disappointed that there is no mention of reservation either in Rajya Sabha or in State legislative councils
NFIW submitted that the non-introduction of the Bill is arbitrary, illegal and is leading to discrimination. We argued that that the framers of our Constitution took note of the adverse and discriminatory position of women in our society and took consequent steps to curb the menace of discrimination and additionally to oblige the State to actively undertake welfare measures for women.

Response to the WR Bill introduced on 19th of September 2023: 

  1. NFIW welcomes the introduction of the WR Bill in Parliament.
  2. The Bill is only for 33% Reservation of seats for women not 50%.
  3. No fixed time-frame: The proposal that the Bill, when passed, will be implemented after a census and electoral delimitation exercise in 2029. It will adversely affect the women as there will be elections to many States Assemblies before 2029. It is here that we would like to state our apprehensions: Every time the Union government passes a Bill with the stated objective of it being beneficial to women, it means the exact opposite. It criminalized instant Triple Talaq, that has shattered families with men being arrested without proof. When the sole bread winner is jailed, where does it leave the women and children?
  4. NFIW is deeply disappointed with the fact that there is no mention of Reservation either in Rajya Sabha or in State Legislative Councils.
  5. There is clear mention of National Capital Territory of Delhi but no mention about other Union Territories.
  6. No mention of Reservation for women in States which have three or less than three Parliamentary constituencies.
NFIW pays its homage to late Geeta Mukherjee and all those stalwarts who fought for women’s political empowerment.
NFIW salutes all those women and women organizations and democratic forces who have been campaigning and struggling for passage of Women reservation.
We thank the Hon’ble Supreme Court for pushing the Modi government to introduce the Women Reservation Bill in Parliament.

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