With the spectre of gender violence and insecurity looming over the country, women of Rajasthan have demanded from political parties a secure environment and budgeting of welfare schemes for women to be included in their manifestoes.
Representatives of various women’s organisations, who have been working at the grassroots level for several years, came to the HT office to discuss and debate gender issues that political parties need to address.
They were unanimous in demanding that both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party include 33% reservation for women in Lok Sabha and the state assemblies in their manifestoes to prove their sincerity to the cause.
All the representatives agreed that the issue had been in limbo for several years now and the time had come for political parties to promise 33% quota and implement it after coming to power.
According to them, there should be a public audit of the promises made by political parties in their manifestoes before they join the election fray again.
They dismissed the claim of the BJP and the Congress leadership that the latter always incorporated public voices while preparing their party manifestoes.
No party has ever discussed the issues before penning their manifestoes that they themselves forget about after releasing it, was the consensus among the women’s representatives.
Mamta Jaitley, secretary of Vividha, a women’s resource centre, said there were good policies and law, but implementation was poor.
“Political parties should spell out women’s welfare schemes along with their budgeting,” Jaitley said. “Moreover they should also fix accountability and ensure transparency in the functioning of the government departments.”
All others present agreed with Jaitley when she suggested the active participation of women’s groups in the framing of the manifesto.
“They should be called for the meetings as they know or have experienced the problems,” she said. “Moreover, parties should spell out in their manifestoes programmes to check the declining sex ratio and rehabilitation of victims of domestic violence and minor victims. They also sought inclusion of women and health issues in the school curriculum.
Nisha Sidhu, sate general secretary of National Federation of Indian Woman, said a safe and secure atmosphere for women was the need of the hour. “Parties should allot 50% of the tickets to women,” she said.
“The law has been made to address sexual harassment at the workplace, but people are not aware of it and the government has not even constituted the mandatory committees. All these should be addressed in the manifesto.”
Sidhu wanted political parties to include the issues of pure drinking water and women’s health in their agenda. “The government should include in their manifesto that doctors would be available in rural areas,” she added.
Nishat Hussain, founderpresident of National Muslim Women’s Welfare Society and Rajasthan convenor of Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Aandolan said: “Parties must promise that they will not do politics on the basis of caste and religion.
The commitment on the implementation of Sachar committee recommendations in the manifestoes would go a long way in instilling confidence of the minorities in the political parties and also pave the way for the progress of Muslim women.”
Neetu Dadlani, a councillor with Mahila Suraksha Salah Kendra, said political parties should take up domestic violence in their agenda. “They must also commit on maintain communal harmony,” she said.
“Not only the administration, but also the legislators should be held responsible for communal clashes in their constituencies and this should be a major promise in their manifesto.”