Vice President M. Hamid Ansari has said that women’s contribution is crucial to building a strong and vibrant nation. He was speaking at the first Conference of Women Legislators in India on the theme ‘Role of Women Legislators in Nation Building’.
The Vice President also made a strong pitch to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill in Parliament.
To shore up women’s political representation, all political parties need to extend their support to ensure that the Constitutional Amendment Bill to provide for 33 percent reservation to women in the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies is not delayed further, he added.
“Women have mostly been trusted to handle women issues. So in the Parliamentary financial committees which together have 74 members, there are just two women. Parliamentary Standing Committee on finance has no woman member, rail committee has one woman, Home Affairs two and Defence one. However, in the committee on women’s empowerment, 28 of 30 members are women,” said the Vice President in his speech.
VP Ansari said that women’s political participation results in tangible gains for democratic governance, including greater responsiveness to citizens’ needs.
Women’s leadership and conflict resolution styles embody democratic ideals and they tend to work in a less hierarchical, more participatory and more collaborative manner than male colleagues, he added.
VP Ansari also said that the increase in women representation at local bodies has not led to commensurate increase of women members in legislatures both at the Centre and State. He further said that the Parliament’s gender profile was woefully unbalanced with women constituting only 12 per cent of the total membership.
The Vice President also referred to steps taken in some states to introduce educational qualifications as a condition to contest panchayat elections. He added that these measures were loaded against women.
“These statutory requirements introduced by some states are loaded against women and need serious reflection,” the VP added.
The event was attended by the President Pranab Mukherjee, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and hosted by Speaker of Lok Sabha Sumitra Mahajan.
The Speaker of Bangladesh Parliament, Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury among other dignitaries was also present at the event.