Monday, March 15, 2010

Holding the nation in tizzy over the Women’s Bill

'Indian Parliament Hullabaloo' was the name of the game that ministers in the Parliament dramatized, when the ruling party announced 33% reservations for women in Parliament. And it goes without saying that the Women's bill is a proud endeavor of the government in power - reinforcing its commitment to the nation - more so the dream of Congress President Sonia Gandhi who was hell-bent on passing the Women’s bill come-what-may.

In spite of the violent and rowdy conduct and criticism demonstrated by the opposition parties inside the Parliament house, the Women's bill finally saw the light of the day and will eventually be written in the Constitution.

The ‘Common-Man’ asks many questions
Now doesn't all this look so good....what a rosy presentation made by bureaucrats, who assure 33% mandatory women representation in the Parliament house. Makes some women and men go Wow!!!

But but but…..with all the déjà vu created over the bill, there are many questions unanswered and the so-called aam-aadmi (common-man) needs answers to them; Does this bill guarantee discrimination among women at the grassroots level?; Does this bill justify the rules and laws on gender equality?; Isn’t this bill doing injustice to a person who is more talented and fit for the job?

Additionally, Isn’t this bill creating a divide among the elite women and the women from rural areas?; Isn’t this bill giving easy entry for patni/ bahu/ beti (wife/ daughter-in-law/ daughter) of politicians (dead or live)?; How do Dalit, tribal and underprivileged women apply for these powerful ministerial positions?; Wouldn’t this bill lead to men labeling women as minority and weaker sex?, among others.

Women left to still compete with women
Except for a few citizens, everyone is giving this bill a thumbs-up for its positive impact on women empowerment. But coming to look at it with a magnifying glass, we are simply making a hypocritical and superficial reform by simultaneously talking about gender equality and women reservations…all in the same breath.

A place of work, whether a corporate house, a religious place, Parliament house, a public sector company, must hire people for their hard work, talent, skills, competitive spirit and attitudes…..irrespective of their sex, religion, or family background. More so, because the Parliament House is an important and integral part of the Indian Constitution and sets laws for smooth functioning of this country. The Parliament indeed is a responsible house which takes care of a billion of India’s population.

Simply because a women is a women, she shouldn’t be given a job at a position of power. She needs to be absorbed based on the competitive advantage she possesses over her counterparts. This way she will gain respect from her male counterparts and she will be taken far too seriously, rather than being treated as someone who is elected through quotas. Besides this, a women selected based on her merits is more confident and this conviction will directly ooze out in her work.

Attitudinal reform a must
It is very important that we change the mindset of people towards women. Mere changing of laws will not solve any problem…in fact women will further be marginalized and will be considered backward. The root of this problem starts when the girl child (especially in villages and small towns) is deprived of her rights to education & health; and when an adult women is abused, raped, paid lower wages compared to her male counterparts; and the mother of all of it is when parents treat the girl child as a ‘Bhoj’ (an unpleasant responsibility). Discrimination begins from the time she is born and the prejudice continues until her death. 

Reservations in Panchayats are worth the effort….because there women compete with people belonging to the same faith, speaking the same language and people who are as backward and underprivileged as she is. However in a cosmopolitan society that we live in, we need to give the right candidate the job, because if this is not done then we’ll have women with political lineages occupying seats not really meant for them.

In the real world, detractors are waiting for women to falter and prove her wrong. And getting people without the right credentials onboard will result in women being tamed and subservient to the entire system.

Finally, let me leave you with this quote by Clara Boothe Luce, American playwright and politician, who advocates, “Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, ‘She doesn’t have what it takes.’ They will say, ‘Women don’t have what it takes.’”

Lastly all I can say is that we need to first change the mindset and bring about an attitudinal reform, which consequentially will translate into smooth and successful implementation of laws.

Before I sign out, as I always say take very good care of yourself and God Bless!