Gender and Women Empowerment Essay

Is reservation for women in parliament justified? Women empowerment and social issue, Status of women in Indian society. What is empowerment for women? The last decades have witnessed some basic changes in the status and role of women in our society. There has been shift in policy approaches from the concept of ‘welfare’ and ‘development’ to ’empowerment’ of women. The most common explanation of ‘women’s empowerment’ is the ability to exercise full control over one’s actions. Are women free to take her own decisions? Present status of women

The Constitution of India grants equality to women in different fields of life. Yet a large number of women are either ill outfitted or not in a position to drive themselves out of their usually unsatisfactory socio-economic conditions. They are poor, uneducated and inadequately trained. They are often absorbed in the struggle to sustain the family physically and emotionally and as a rule are discouraged from taking interest in affairs outside home. Oppression and atrocities on women are still out of control. Female infanticide continues to be common.

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Statistics show that there is still a very high preference for a male child in states like Harayana, UP, MP, Punjab , Bihar and Rajsthan etc. The male to female ratio is very high in these states. Domestic violence is also widespread and is also associated with dowry. Leaving a meager number of urban and sub-urban women, Indian women are still crying for social justice. Women make up 5o% of our country’s population. Hence there can be no progress unless their needs and interests are fully met. Empowerment would not hold any meaning unless they are made strong, alert and aware of their equal status in the society.

Policies should be framed to bring them into the mainstream of society. It is important to educate the women. The need of the hour is to improve female literacy as education holds the key to development. Empowerment would become more relevant if women are educated, better informed and can take rational decisions. It is also necessary to sensitize the other sex towards women. A woman needs to be physically healthy so that she is able to take challenges of equality. But it is sadly lacking in a majority of women especially in the rural areas. What actual achieved

In recent years there have been explicit moves to increase women’s political participation. In the Panchayati Raj system, however, women have been given representation as a sign of political empowerment. There are many elected women representatives at the village council level. However their power is restricted, as it the men who wield all the authority. It is crucial to train and give real power to these women leaders so that they can catalyst change in their villages regarding women. All this shows that the process of gender equality and women’s empowerment still has a long way to go.

The reservation of 33 % seat in indian parliament for women will definitely empower the women in society in Social and economic factors. The Women’s Reservation Bill has been a political raw nerve for nearly a decade now. It has always triggered heated debates in Parliament and outside. Its advocates say the Bill is essential for active political participation of women. Opponents argue that reservation would only help women of elitist groups gain political power, aggravating the plight of the poor and deprived sections. How did the Women’s Reservation Bill originate? The proposed legislation to reserve 33. percent seats in Parliament and state legislatures for women was drafted first by the H D Deve Gowda-led United Front government. The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on September 12, 1996. Though it has been introduced in Parliament several times since then, the Bill could not be passed because of lack of political consensus. What does the Bill provide? Reservation for women at each level of legislative decision-making, starting with the Lok Sabha, down to state and local legislatures. If the Bill is passed, one-third of the total available seats would be reserved for women in national, state, or local governments.

What is the argument in favor of the Bill? Its proponents say it would lead to gender equality in Parliament, resulting in the empowerment of women as a whole. Historically, the Bill’s supporters say, women are deprived in India. Increased political participation of women will help them fight the abuse, discrimination, and inequality they suffer from. Then why is there opposition to the Bill? Those who oppose the bill are saying that by asking for reservation women are perpetuating unequal status for themselves. But, then supporters argue that provision of reservation for women is only for 15 years.

The idea of reservation is to create a level playing field so that women can raise their share in politics and society and then, look for equal status. AGAINST THE MOTION… Despite laudable intentions, the Women’s Reservation Bill that passed with a thumping majority in India’s upper house is flawed because of its pitch and delivery. Parties on either side of the political spectrum have joined hands to support the bill in order to appear politically correct, but at the expense of being reasonable. Empowerment should be the prerogative of all Indian women, not just some.

Several critics have argued, rightly, that the majority of reserved female seats will be taken up by wives and daughters acting as proxies for established male leaders. Political parties field candidates based solely on their ability to win. Even for women’s constituencies, the candidates that they field are going to be the ones that have the best chances of winning the seat. Without sub-reservations, female candidates will be disproportionately represented by politically active, upper class party members who have high chances of victory. The Bill’s rotational method of reservation will make two-thirds of parliament, about 60 members, one-term MPs. 181 women’s seats will get reserved in a general election, and 181 other general seats will be reserved for women in the following election. MPs will have little incentive to serve their electorate as they know they will be ineligible for the next election. As Jawed Naqvi has pointed out, there is no proven linear relationship between the representation of women in parliament and their emancipation. Pakistan’s assembly has 22% female representation, he argues, more than double the figure in India. Yet Pakistan ranks near the bottom in most global rankings on women’s freedom and status.

American women, on the other hand, have no reservations. Their seats in the United States Congress are won on merit alone. And they aren’t faring too poorly at all. The problem does not arise from legislative representation, but from social mindsets. The real tragedy is that Indian women suffer a thousand forms of discrimination. Millions of girls die before they are even born – the stark foeticide, infanticide and dowry killing figures are testament to this. Girls that are lucky to make it into the world live a life of discrimination when it comes to nourishment, healthcare, education and opportunities for employment.

Those that do make it to the workforce are paid less than their male counterparts for the same roles, and have to live in fear of suffering the indignity of harassment, abuse and rape. How much of this is going to change with more women in parliament? The Constitution and a numbers of laws already provide for gender equality. The problem does not lie in our society’s ability to pass women-friendly laws, but rather in implementing them at the grassroots level. Indian women face problems because of the attitude of society. Without social understanding and acceptance, laws on gender equality are difficult to implement.

What we need is increased social activism in daily lives at the grassroots level, not more female legislators. FOR THE MOTION After fourteen years of women’s struggle, Rajya Sabha passed a women’s Reservation Bill. The OBC satraps did their best to forestall the Bill but did not succeed. Their argument that the bill will benefit only upper caste Hindu women at the cost of OBCs and minority women is only superficial and would hardly bears scrutiny. Truth is more complex and has to be examined with all its complexity. In fact Dalits and OBCs have already been given reservation and that reservation is fully justified.

But by giving them reservation within reservation can make them even more dependants on reservation. Also, when OBC men can fight elections and all of them are not highly educated, in fact many men are not literate beyond reading or writing their names why can’t women, even if not highly literate, can go to state assembly or parliament. And this is also not true that all OBC women are illiterate and all upper caste women are highly literate. Many upper caste women are also not highly literate. Today female education is spreading fast and let alone OBC women even dalit women are also getting better educated than their mothers.

Truth is much more complex. OBC men are not willing to allow their women folk to go to state assemblies or parliament. They do not want to part with their share of power. If women start representing in assemblies and parliament they will become dominant and assertive of their power. It hurts their male ego. Also, if they are really concerned about their women getting reservation why can’t they give 33% reservation to their women in party nomination. Why do they want quota within quota? They want extra reservation so that they do not want to cut down their own representation in parliament or assembly.

And again who can say that the benefit will not go only to creamy layer among OBC. So far all the benefits of reservation have gone to creamy layers among OBCs and dalits. There is no reason to believe that political reservation will benefit at all. Mulayam Singh Yadav and Laloo Prasad Yadav also are saying, to strengthen their position that a sub-quota be given to Muslim women. This has no iota of sincerity. Had they been sincere, they would have given tickets to Muslim women of their respective parties either for parliamentary elections or to say the least, assembly elections.

As far as we know, these leaders did not give tickets even to Muslim men, in proportion to their population, let alone to Muslim women. Now to demand sub-quota for Muslim women is nothing more than politicking for winning support of Muslims. In our opinion it is government’s duty to ensure justice to women of all castes and communities and to refuse to slash 33% quota under pressure and there should not be sub-quotas for castes and communities. The democratic ideal requires that justice be done to women as a whole and all women to whatever castes and communities they belong to should have fair representation without taking resort to quota.

Women’s reservation bill – A social necessity, national obligation Women are not asking for grace and charity. Their contribution to the cause of nation-building exceeds that of men. An International Labour Organization study shows that “while women represent 50 percent of the world adult population and a third of the official labour force, they perform nearly two-third of all working hours, receive a tenth of world income and own less than one percent of world property. Therefore, reservation for women is not a bounty but only an honest recognition of their contribution to social development. Article 82 provides for the allocation of seats upon the completion of each census. As per the 1971 census, the population of India was about 54 crores. Now after the 2001 census, it has risen to about 102 crores. So the strength of the Lok Sabha can be easily increased by one-third to 750 well within the requisite formula. This will take away the fear of any male member to vacate the present seat.


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