India has been at the vanguard of women's participation in both the legislature and the executive, stated by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar today.
India is among the first countries in the world to have a woman prime minister and today India's president is a woman, Meira Kumar said while addressing the sixth annual meeting of women.
"The present Lok Sabha or the house of people, that had a year ago unanimously elected me as its first woman speaker, also has the largest number of women members so far. The chairperson of the ruling coalition is a woman and so is the leader of opposition," she said.
The speaker said women in India, have played an integral role in nation building.
"We believe that democracy and development can never be equitable if women are excluded from dialogue leading to policy making and implementation," she said.
"Our constitution provides for 33 percent reservation in local bodies for women," she said.
Today, more than one million elected representatives in these agencies are women, she said.
"Recently, the council of states (Rajya Sabha) has passed a bill to provide 33 percent reservation for women in parliament and state legislatures," she said.
"Our planning process includes gender budgeting and perceives women as agents of change. A joint parliamentary committee on empowerment of women, functioning since 1997 has contributed significantly in this area," the speaker said.
The two-day annual meeting of women speakers of parliament began Thursday.
The agenda of the meeting consists of themes including building national health systems and legislation and policy, removing barriers to access to health for all, according to a statement issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat in New Delhi.
After the meet, Meira Kumar, who is a member of the preparatory committee for the Third World Conference of Speakers of Parliament, will travel to Geneva to attend its final meeting July 18.
She will be joined there by Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman K. Rahman Khan. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will also be present at the inaugural ceremony of the conference July 19.