Women’s reservation bill passed. Finally. Is this what we have waited for so long? Is it truly a symbol of women empowerment? Is it a social change?
Well, the answer to these questions can only be found if we introspect. Yes, it was very courageous of this government to introduce such a bill in this session despite such a strong and staunch opposition. It took 14 years for the bill to get introduced in Rajya Sabha and get passed. Yes, there is little doubt that it will get passed in the Lok Sabha, whenever it is introduced, this session or next.
The UPA chief has shown a strong leadership in the face of such odds. She wants that change, she wants them now and she is ready to risk the government if it takes that. The people who are opposing the bill such as Lalu Prasad Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav have threatened to withdraw their support from the government (their number of MP’s in the Lok Sabha is 26) which is almost inconsequential as far as the fate of the bill is concerned.
This bill has come in the second innings of this government and without any doubt will further strengthen the strong foundation which the RTI Act and NREGA laid in the previous term. They were historical legislations in their own right, RTI being a really important one, and were influential in improving the credibility of the government. And women’s reservation bill is following suit.
The bigger question is whether it is truly a symbol of change, be it a social change or at least in the attitude of the government. It is the UPA chairperson who forces one to believe that it is indeed the social change which the country wants. She is the person who believes that the country can develop only if the participation of the women increases in all the walks of life. This belief is strong enough for her to go ahead with the bill and this is not the first time that her conviction has prompted her to take huge steps. Her decisions on the social issues related legislations are evidence enough that change is needed and the people want them to happen quickly.
There are enough people who are still showing their discomfort with the bill, with each one citing a different reason, but the fact remains that it is a small step attempted to help the country move in the right direction. The debate was never about this bill or any other, it was always about that change which this country has longed for and this may not be the ultimate tool to bring about a sea change, but there is no doubt that it is a step forward.