Interjecting on the topic of Gender Sensitive Parliaments, Sharma said ‘I appreciate the IPU’s new report on sexism, harassment and violence against women Parliamentarians and parliamentary staff in Parliaments around the world, which provides important data and examples of good parliamentary practices. The data regrettably tells us there is still a lot of work that needs to be done for a gender-sensitive Parliament. It is high time for introspection amongst us to make our Parliaments free from sexism, harassment and violence against women.”
Sharma also spoke about the progress made in India and the challenges ahead.
“In India, the principle of gender equality is enshrined in our Constitution and the Parliament of India has also enacted several progressive laws to protect women against discrimination, violence, atrocities and also to eradicate social evils. The 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments provided for reservation of 33 per cent of seats for women in the local bodies of governance that is in the Panchayats and Municipal Bodies. It also provides for at least one-third reservation for women to the office of Chairperson in these bodies. Some of the Indian States have already raised the reservation level up to 50 per cent to provide for still wider participation. I am happy to inform you that over 46 per cent of the total elected representatives in Panchayats and Municipal Bodies are women.”
Sharma also pointed to the efforts made by the Indian government under PM Narendra Modi across many verticals.
“Today under the visionary leadership of our Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, India has moved from a paradigm of women’s development to women-led development. I am proud to say that we are moving with the vision of a new India where women are equal partners in fast paced and sustainable national development.”
Pointing out to the recent historic election of tribal woman as India’s Head of State, Sharma highlighted the increasing strength of women MPs in India’s Parliament.
“I take pride in saying that we have just elected a woman as the President of India. The current 17th Lok Sabha returned a record 78 women members to the Lok Sabha, the highest ever representation for Lok Sabha. We have ensured gender-sensitive facilities for women members such as crèche and Ladies’ Lounge. We also have a Complaints Committee for Redressal of Sexual Harassment of Women Employees. In the current Lok Sabha, Hon’ble Speaker, Shri Om Birla has taken initiatives to enable women members to effectively participate in the deliberations of the House. In the initial Sessions of the House, out of the 46 first time elected women MPs, 42 spoke during Zero Hour.
Our duty as a members of parliament is to ensure a conducive environment, free of sexism and sexual harassment and violence against women.To achieve this, it requires first and foremost having a strong commitment at the highest political level and change of mind-sets.”
The Inter Parliamentary Union underway in Kigali, Rwanda has representation from dozens of countries, including hundreds of members of Parliament from across the globe as well as global leaders and luminaries. The agenda topic for this edition is focusing on gender issues.