Women’s Reservation — what do you think?

I know the intentions are right, this probably is long overdue; yet, I am sceptical of the bill. Who will benefit?

I had a ringside view of the local body elections in the late 90s, in which the quota was implemented.

Unfortunately, most of those filling the quotas were wives/daughters/sisters/kin of party members. They were not even equipped to answer simple questions. In the council meetings, after being elected, they were dressed for a carnival and sat around wide-eyed (hopefully, this has changed).

The other women who contested/won were doing so on merit; and would have done so, regardless of quota.

I am well-versed with all the arguments supporting gender-based reservation. In theory and principle I agree with everything. But, I’ve seen that true empowerment of women happens only with education. AND only when the men in the family are groomed to accept the importance of productive women (as against reproductive).

It is a great move, indeed, that the RS has passed the bill. But what sense does it make, if the elected member ends up being the CM’s daughter or the some petty official’s wife? Or worse still, someone like a Mayawati – what has she done for Dalits or women?

 What’s your take?

Below is the note I wrote for my mag on Women’s Day – my thoughts on the reservation are only marginally different from those on IWD.

I’ve always had mixed views on Women’s Day. I not only enjoy my ‘for women’ privileges, I often expect it. I like to be treated special because I am a woman; BUT, if I am being discriminated against based on  my sex, I would just as quickly grab a musket.
The whole idea of women’s liberation and feminism finding a platform in a Women’s Day is what makes me uncomfortable. I demand and will work towards equal pay and opportunities, that doesn’t mean I am unappreciative of a door being held open for me.
Yes, there are women around the world – the majority of us in fact – who do not have half our opportunities or chances; Women who will settle for one day in a year without spousal-abuse or bone-breaking labour, and maybe a ‘thank you’ or ‘sorry’ for all their hardships.
But the problem with these ‘days’, hijacked by global organisations with limitless funding, is that those that need to be celebrated and helped are the least affected by all this rhetoric.
Just like most of you reading this, I can fight my battles in society and at home – because we have been empowered by education. How many girl children have that empowerment? Are they being groomed to be women who can pick their battles, fight their wars?
Millions of dollars are invested in portals and brochures; five star lodgings and first class travel of bureaucrats;  media campaigns and publicity stunts. I’d rather that those millions go into building schools, training teachers, paying families to keep their little girls out of the labour force… UN-led (or any other such toothless organisation) bureaucratic jamboree doesn’t make women’s day for me.
Woman Today writers and contributors however think differently. We have some strong advocacy inside. I agree with all the points raised, but the women who broke down barriers, climbed greater heights, and turned the world on its head didn’t do it because of a day dedicated to them. They only did it because they dedicated everyday to EDUCATION.
Pay for the education of one girl child – there is no better way to celebrate our sex! Happy Women’s Day.
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