New Delhi, March 8: The occasion was apt as today the world celebrates the Women's Day and the timing was right as it's high time that this was done; the passage of Women's Reservation Bill.
The House, which has been witnessing disruptions in the morning session since Monday, today seemingly spoke in one voice to celebrate the International Women's Day.
Cutting across party lines, Rajya Sabha members today voiced concern over incidents of crime against women and made a strong case for early passage of the bill to provide 33 per cent reservation to women in Parliament as well as in state assemblies.
As soon as the members assembled to take up today's business, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu made a reference to the International Women's Day, which is observed all over the world to celebrate the achievements of women as well as to renew commitment to empowering them and ending gender biases.
"With women constituting about 50 per cent of our population, social, economic and political empowerment of women, including providing reservation in Parliament and state legislatures, has to be accorded top priority for the country to achieve rapid progress," Naidu said at the outset.
He stressed on the need to renew focus on gender equality and safety of women, besides efforts to educate and empower them.
Status Quo of the Women's Reservation Bill
The Women's Reservation Bill or The Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, 2008, is a lapsed bill in the Parliament of India which proposed to amend the Constitution of India to reserve 33% of all seats in the Lower house of Parliament of India, the Lok Sabha, and in all state legislative assemblies for women.
The Rajya Sabha had passed the bill on March 9, 2010.
Various parties have promised to see the smooth passage of the Bill. Congress President Rahul Gandhi had said that his party would get the women's reservationbill passed in Parliament "once it comes to power at the Centre."
Congress president Sonia Gandhi has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to get the women's reservation bill passed in the Lok Sabha taking advantage of the BJP's majority in the House
Gandhi also assured support of her party to the legislation, which she said would be a "significant" step forward in the empowerment of women.
She also recalled that the Congress and its late leader Rajiv Gandhi had first mooted the provision for quota for women in panchayats and municipal bodies through Constitution amendment bills
The House was united in its concern for women's safety and care
The women reservation bill has already been passed by the Rajya Sabha and is pending approval of the lower house, the Lok Sabha.
After Naidu's remarks, women MPs from different parties spoke on the issue and pressed for early passage of the reservation bill.
Veteran Congress MP Ambika Soni said a resolution should be passed by the House to support the legislation providing reservation to women in Parliament and state assemblies.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad expressed concern over rising incidents of sexual assault against girl child.
"The government, together with the opposition, should create an atmosphere to ensure the safety of women," he said, and agreed with others on early passage of reservation legislation.
External Affair Minister Sushma Swaraj said she was in favour of women reservation bill and continues to support it.
Although women have excelled in many field and entered areas dominated by men, she said, "Women still continue to face injustice, which is shameful".
She called for a mass-movement to change the mindset of people towards women.
Naidu also agreed with the suggestion by some members to have a woman member in the vice-chairman panel.
However, later the members started protesting over issues like banking scam and Cauvery river water.
Amid the din, the Chairman adjourned the House which could not take up the Question Hour.