New Delhi: As the world observed Women's Day, Rajya Sabha members on Friday transcended party lines to demand passage of a bill providing 33 per cent reservation for women in the Parliament and state assemblies. As soon as the House met for the day, Chairman Hamid Ansari mentioned that Friday was International Women's Day to celebrate and honour the untiring commitment and persistent efforts of women.
The UN theme for International Women's Day this year is 'A Promise is a Promise: Time for Action to End Violence Against Women,' he said. "Today, though women have made remarkable progress in economic, political and social spheres, gender equality remains a distant dream," he said, voicing concern over female foeticide, honour killings of girls and growing violence against women.
"There is an urgent need to make self-introspection and shape public opinion and perceptions so that women can achieve their potential and live a dignified life," he said. Ansari dispensed with the Question Hour and allowed members to make brief submissions on the occasion.
Jaya Bachchan (SP) said there can be no celebration unless the mindset is changed and cited growing incidents of rape, molestation, domestic violence and public thrashing of women by protectors of law. Rajni Patil (Cong) recalled the 33 per cent reservation that the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi gave to women in Panchayats and local bodies and said, "If we want to celebrate women's day, the women's reservation bill should be passed by Parliament."
Gundu Sudha Rani (TDP) said there has been 70 per cent increase in all crimes against women in the last decade and unless the mindset is changed, this agony will continue. Smriti Zubin Irani (BJP) said government should remove the economic uncertainty surrounding women by removing the cap on LPG cylinders.
Ambika Soni (Cong) said Rajya Sabha has already passed the women's reservation bill and appealed for its early passage in Lok Sabha. Najma Heptulla (BJP) said mindset cannot change through law and she as well as her party colleague Maya Singh appealed for passage of the women's reservation bill.
Derek O'Brien (TMC) said lady bosses in political parties are better than men and cited examples of AIADMK, BSP and Congress besides his own party headed by J Jayalalithaa, Mayawati, Sonia Gandhi and Mamata Banerjee respectively. Brajesh Pathak (BSP) said participation of women from Dalit and backward classes, economically weaker sections and minorities should be ensured while passing the women's bill. T Siva (DMK) said his party has been fighting for women's rights.