A number of city-based Muslim organisations came together on Thursday to voice their support for the Women’s Reservation Bill.
The groups, dominated by Muslim women's organisations, firmly condemned the parliamentarians and religious clerics opposing the Bill, which allows 33 per cent reservation for women in the Parliament and state legislatures.
“We believe politics is a powerful medium through which women can bring about positive change in the country,” said Noorjehan Niaz, founder member of the Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan.
“We have fought for 14 years to see this Bill come through the Rajya Sabha, and now we want it to be tabled in the Lok Sabha too.”
Javed Anand, general secretary of the organisation Muslims for Secular Democracy, emphasised the need to put aside debates of reservations within reservations for the time being.
“We want women of all religions, classes and castes to benefit from those reservations, but for now, we need to ensure that the issue of women’s representation is not derailed.”
The speakers also condemned Lucknow-based Islamic cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawwad, who had stated to the press last week that Muslim women must keep away from politics and stay at home.
“Religious scholars like him know nothing about the aspirations and desires of women, and misinterpret Islam to pull us down,” said Niaz. “We ask them to keep their mouths shut and let us progress.”
Dr Zeenat Shaukat Ali, an Islamic scholar and author of The Empowerment of Women in Islam, added that opponents of the Bill are trying to create a “woman-phobia” in the country.