When India's first female president,Pratibha Patil, was elected in 2007, she promised to work for women's empowerment and equality in government.
Yesterday she followed through with her campaign rhetoric by announcing her National Mission on Empowerment of Women, which would reserve a third of the seats in the national and state legislatures for women, as well as half of the seats for local government. Right now only a third of the seats for village council are reserved for women. The proposed bill has met opposition from caste-based parties, but Patil feels confident it will be supported by the two-thirds of Parliament necessary for it to pass.
Other women-centric programs will be implemented, including a movement to increase the literacy of women in India which is at a scary 54% (as opposed to 75% for men).
This announcement was made only a few days after India's first woman speaker of the lower house was elected. Meira Kumar has risen from the caste of 'untouchables' to serve five terms in Parliament before being elected Speaker. Her election has added to the record number of female MPs. Yet while there are now 59 women in Parliament, they still only represent 11% of the lower house.
However, with these changes, things are looking up for women in India. -Celeste
Photo courtesy of Thaindian News
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