There exist multiple aspects of struggle for a common man - such as economic, social and political struggle, and if these various aspects are studied deeply, it appears that the scope of this struggle becomes extremely wide and unequal if a woman has to face it.
It is not easy for a woman to fight for her rights, respect and justice because breaking or going against the established traditions in the society amounts to challenging the whole society or the established paternal system. A girl has to play many roles in her lifetime such as that of a daughter, a mother, a housewife, a sister etc. and she has to bear her responsibilities working within the formal or informal customs created by the society.
This helplessness of hers arises due to the absence of an independent economic, social, educational or political system. So, it is necessary that a new thinking and revolution is started to break the shackles of undemocratic nature and inequalities of this society and that can prove to be a milestone in getting a woman her rightful place in the society, justice and representation.
It was the result of initiating this campaign that in 1993, a provision was made by constitutional amendment that one-third of the posts of Sarpanchs of the Gram Panchayat were reserved for women, but even today, we can say that there is a need to bring about a change in the status of women in the society. The number of women in the first Lok Sabha was only 5 percent and now in the 17thLok Sabha, this number is 14 percent.
Even after 74 years of independence, these figures are shocking because most of the women are deprived still of the mainstream politics. Realizing this and to take the cause of women’s struggle for political activism and representation to a new dimension, Smt. Sonia Gandhi, the then President, Indian National Congress and Shri Rahul Gandhi initiated the Women’s Reservation Bill and lent their full support to it. However, they also had to face various challenges in the prevailing political structure in India and as a result of this, the Women’s Reservation Bill has been pending for a long time. Shri Rahul Gandhi has said in many of his statements that if his Central Government is formed, he will definitely try to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill.
Today, taking forward this revolutionary fight and for ensuring women’s entry into politics, the Congress party has decided to make the internal structure of its political party more women-friendly. The reflection of this new thinking is Smt. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who inspired half of the country’s population to fight for their rights, justice and respect and made the historic announcement of 40 percent reservation in the upcoming assembly elections of Uttar Pradesh for active political participation of women, which deserves unparalleled praise!
To understand better the context of women’s reservation, we need to look at the social, economic and political differences and inequalities between women and men in a comparative manner. Most notable in this sequence is the regressive criteria of our patriarchal society, due to which women lag behind men in political competition. Women are subjected to various forms of harassment due to cultural restrictions, customs and stereotypes. Patriarchal society does not give equal opportunity to women, so it is necessary that all political parties and organizations should forget their differences and take concrete steps to increase their participation in politics and other diverse fields.
For women’s empowerment to be truly delivered at the grassroots level, special care has to be taken, that women from lower social and economic classes can join the mainstream politics. Even today, most of the women have to run from pillar-to-post to get justice in protest against the violence and harassment inflicted on them and this is the reason that now women will have to come forward and fight for their safety and rights themselves.
To further empower the voice of women and fight for their fundamental rights, a new slogan has been framed - “I am a girl, I can fight’ and Smt. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is trying to make this effort worthwhile, which will give a sense of confidence, self-reliance and leadership to every woman so that with this energy, the development and future of our country can be brighter.
Author is a Joint Secretary in AICC Research Deptt.