Batting for early passage of women's reservation bill, Rahul Gandhi today vowed to work for larger representation to them in Parliament, government and Congress and noted that the party and the country cannot ignore the views of half of the population.
Interacting with women from across the country as part of Congress' exercise of seeking direct inputs from stakeholders for its 2014 Lok Sabha election manifesto, Gandhi said he wanted "maximum possible" women in leadership positions and on a personal note added that even in Gandhi household, "Grandmother (Indira Gandhi) was the boss...".
"Empowering women is a big battle that we have to fight and win," he said and expressed confidence that not only the Women Reservation Bill that seeks to provide 33 per cent quota to them in legislatures bodies will be passed but in next five to ten years, nearly half of Congress ministers will be women.
"Every woman is an asset for the country.... India can not become a superpower without the empowerment of 50 per cent population of women.... We have to bring your views in our manifesto," Gandhi said during the interaction as the women put forth their views frankly to the Congress Vice President, at times critical and demanding specific solutions.
Among the women present were sex workers, Anganwadi workers, besides members of Gulabi Gang, a group of women vigilantes and activists originally from Bundelkhand.
- There should be maximum possible number of women in leadership positions
- Among the Congress ministers, there should be 50 percent women in next five to ten years
- There is a need to be aggressive and get going to ensure that women are empowered
- Women do not need any protection. If you give them their rights, they can protect themselves
The Women's Reservation Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha but not in the Lok Sabha and ensuring its passage before the elections is said to be on the priority list of Sonia Gandhi.
The bill is facing opposition from Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and from some section of the Congress.
On Women's Safety
Rahul said it was sad that even today women were subjected to all kinds of violence in the country. Violence takes place against women and this happens from the deep inside. There can be various ways of violence against women. We have to fight against it. The biggest thing is that we have change the attitude.
He said: There are 50 percent women in the country without whom the nation cannot develop. Our country cannot become superpower unless we could ensure safety of all our women. We do not even want such a superpower in which women, who are half of the population are not empowered.
Gandhi noted every woman will be an asset irrespective of in whatever condition she is adding "we have to just create opportunities for them."
During the meeting some among the group of 250 women also raised concerns over rising prices of LPG and petroleum and sought categorical assurances from Gandhi. Some raised the issue of Aanganwadi workers' strike in Maharashtra and demand for better stipend and pension while others talked about jobs.