A network of 1500 organisations and individuals has launched a WeToo campaign on social media for the passage of the women’s reservation bill in Lok Sabha. The campaign is inspired by the #MeToo campaign where women came forward to show the world the reality of sexual abuse.
The #WeToo campaign aims at giving women equal representation in all fields including politics. The Women’s reservation bill will reserve one-third of the seats in Lok Sabha and state assemblies, on the lines of local self-government institutions in India, which in most states reserve as much as 50% seats for women, according to The Indian Express.
The WeToo campaign has a collective of rights organisations such as All India Democratic Women’s Association, Jagori, All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch, Centre for Social Research and Oxfam Indian among others.
“All of us came together and mobilised ourselves for the first time in the wake of the protests against the December 26, 2012, Delhi gangrape incident. Since then we have raised the issue of equal representation of women across sectors as the prominent way of resolving several gender concerns… WeToo will push for women’s empowerment especially through the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill,” said Anjali Mehta from the civil society platform Justice Seekers, as reported by The Indian Express.
The bill was first introduced by the United Front government in 1996 and eventually was passed in the Upper House by the UPA government in 2010. It has been pending since 2010.
In 2016, only 12% of the seats were filled by women. Out of the 543 seats, women occupied only 66. In October 2017, there were only 63 women in the parliament.
Last year, on September 21, Sonia Gandhi wrote a letter to PM Narendra Modi to pass the Women’s reservation bill. She wrote, “I am writing to request you to take advantage of your majority in the Lok Sabha to now get the Women’s Reservation Bill passed in the lower house as well.”
To this, the then-Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu, now the Vice-President of India said that his party was ready for the reform and they were only seeking consensus from other political parties for the passage of the bill.
The Bill has stirred controversy whenever attempts were made to introduce it. It not only faced resistance from the national parties, including the BJP, Congress and the Left; but also from regional outfits.
UP CM Yogi Adityanath, when he was the Gorakhpur MP opposed the bill and said that “women power does not require freedom, but protection and channelisation”. Leaders like RJD Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav have opposed the bill and have also demanded that the reservation must be less than 33.33%. They also demanded that reservation is given to women belonging to minorities be given representation.as well.