In a show of strength and solidarity, 5,000 people marched from Jantar Mantar to Parliament Street on July 29 to demand 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament
Shaweta Anand Delhi
Hundreds of colourful banners with lakhs of pro-reservation signatures from all over India marked the street as people rallied along, shouting slogans and singing folk songs, demanding reservation for women in Delhi's Jantar Mantar on Thursday.
A delegation of 10 representatives met President Pratibha Patel who expressed 'unequivocal support' to the demand calling reservation for women 'good for the country' in this 'now-or-never situation'. Meanwhile, the fever pitch at Parliament Street got raised further when Sharmila Tagore, Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar took stage, raising their voice in solidarity. "Women of India are still fighting a war of independence, even after 60 years of freedom from the British. Women have been systematically kept away from education, employment and active politics. That should change now because they deserve equal rights," said Tagore.
"It's a matter of shame that something like equality between women and men, is not an obviously understood concept. Women, when they are being tortured, which has been true through generations, are never asked their caste or creed then, but when it comes to giving them their due rights, all these 'concerns' about reservation within reservation spring up," said Akhtar to a thunderous applause.
"It's a thought-out strategy to prevent women from coming up as 'allowing' that would threaten some people's sense of family and social order, while others openly, and foolishly, think that women are weak and stupid so cannot lead anyway," he added. "One should be careful of such so-called supporters of the bill, who'll not genuinely support it at the time of decision-making," Akhtar cautioned.
"We're a civil society only when everyone gets equal rights. Why do we settle with just 8 per cent political representation from women of India? It's not that they don't deserve it but they're being left out on purpose. They neither have access to money or muscle power that wins elections in this country!" asserted Shabana Azmi.
Parliamentarians like Jayanti Natarajan from Congress, Brinda Karat from CPM, D Raja from CPI and MLA Christine Lazarus also spoke in favour of the Bill and assured that it would be taken up in the ongoing monsoon session.
"By passage of the bill in the Rajya Sabha, only half the battle has been won. We'll see to it that it gets passed in Lok Sabha now," said Natarajan. "What is 33 per cent, women should get 50 per cent reservation, " commented Raja.
Karat also said that even though the Lok Sabha is just ten steps from the Rajya Sabha still the distance is something that needs to be covered this time.
Lazarus opined that the challenge is not just getting reservation in the Parliament but also training in how to do politics as well.
The rally was addressed by Annie Raja of NFIW, Sudha Sundararaman of AIDWA, Shabnam Hashmi of Anhad, Ranjana Kumari of Women Power Connect, Madhu from Jagori and Dr Vimal Thorat.