‘It is a great move… We are all very happy’

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The Indian government has breathed new life into the long-pending Women’s Reservation Bill, winning accolades from prominent figures, including former India cricket captain Mithali Raj. The bill, named Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam, aims to reserve 33 percent of seats for women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, a big step towards achieving gender parity in India’s political landscape.

The bill, introduced by Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, marked the inaugural legislation in the newly inaugurated Parliament building in New Delhi. This development has ignited a wave of appreciation from across the nation, with Mithali Raj leading the chorus of praise. 

She stated, “I congratulate our Prime Minister and our government on the Women’s Reservation Bill… With 33 percent (reservation), the participation of women in governance will increase… It is a great move… We are all very happy,” in a conversation with ANI.

The Women’s Reservation Bill has been a contentious issue since its first introduction in 1996. It languished for 27 years due to a lack of political consensus, particularly regarding the demand for a ‘quota within quota’ by several regional parties. 

However, this time, the bill seems poised for smooth passage, as most parties unite in support of guaranteeing women one-third representation in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.

It’s worth noting that the bill will come into effect only after the completion of a delimitation exercise, which involves the redrawing of constituencies based on post-bill census data. This means that it won’t be in force during the next Lok Sabha elections in 2024. Nevertheless, the symbolic significance of this moment is not lost on India’s sporting icons and political leaders.

Former Rajya Sabha MP Mary Kom expressed her views, saying, “As a woman of India, getting to witness something like this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I am grateful to PM Modi for initiating a discussion on such important issues.” Similarly, former Indian athlete Anju Bobby George commended the government’s initiative, adding, “The women’s reservation is important for women’s empowerment.”

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