Women’s Reservation Bill – Is it a mode of empowerment or just another reservation gimmick?

In India the condition of women has surely improved to some extent over years. Women are now realizing their capabilities and voicing their opinion. They are heading big companies, representing the country on an International level and now they have a chance to even run the country with the recently passed Women’s Reservation Bill.

After going through 15 years of chaos and confusion the reservation bill has finally been passed by Rajya Sabha. If the bill gets cleared in Lok Sabha then India will have 33% reservation for women in the Parliament and State assemblies. This would surely encourage more women to participate in the political affairs and take some valuable decisions at the higher level for the smooth operation of the country. The bill also recognizes the capability of women and spreads the message that women are equally capable in handling big responsibilities when compared to men.

But when it comes to solving the issue of gender discrimination I feel we are just looking at the tip of the iceberg. Gender inequality and discrimination of women still prevails in different parts of the country and I don’t see how this reservation bill can bring about a change in the condition of women in rural areas and remote villages. Rural women still continue to face abuse and humiliation. Female foeticide still prevails in the society. Education and respect still appears to be a far-fetched dream for women living in villages. These issues can be resolved only by changing the mindset of people who still consider women to be inferior. Would it be that easy to change the mindset of men who have grown up in the environment where women are not treated well? They have grown up watching their mother not being given basic rights. They have grown up watching their sister not being allowed to go to school. In fact they have got so habituated to all this that they no longer consider it to be wrong.  How would the bill empower these women? How would the bill change the long held beliefs of these men? Having a woman at top doesn’t necessarily mean all these problems would be resolved.

Most of the women who are in the arena of politics come from political families. There are chances that this reservation might be misused. We would find the wife, daughter or sister of political leaders making their way into Parliament even if they do not deserve the position. With the 33% reservation are we not making it more obvious in a way that men and women are not equal? Shouldn’t the reservation be 50% if it was to curb gender inequality? Also by introducing this reservation system we are encouraging people to introduce more reservations like one based on caste. This would worsen the situation causing more discrimination and more inequality in our country. There could be both positive and negative consequences of this reservation bill

The bill has got a long journey ahead from Lok Sabha to the stage where it would be finally implemented. We cannot say what difference it would make till then. So the only thing we can do right now is wait and watch.

Swati R

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