THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi has said that UPA would continue to mount pressure on the new Government at the Centre to pass the Women’s reservation Bill by using its majority in the Lok Sabha.
Inaugurating the 16th state annual conference of Kudumbashree State Mission here on Tuesday, Sonia Gandhi said during the UPA Government’s tenure several legislations were enacted and schemes introduced to empower the women and protect the women and children from harassment and exploitation.
“Today 40 per cent of people’s representatives in the the local bodies in the country are women. Here in Kerala 50 per cent of the representatives are women. We had passed the Women’s reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha when the UPA was in power to provide 33 per cent reservation for women in state Assemblies and Parliament. We will continue to mount pressure on the NDA Government to pass the Bill in Lok Sabha where it has a majority,’’ she said, to the applause of the hundreds of Kudumbashree workers attending the annual conference. She pointed out that women had a greater role to play in the emancipation of women. “You have done it in Kerala. Kerala is once again showing the way for the country. Now you are celebrating the anniversary of Kudumbashree under the theme of ‘Resistance against poverty and social injustice’. Others have to learn from your experience’’ she said.
She said Kudumbashree self-help groups could empower lakhs of women from the weaker sections of the society. Lakhs of self-help groups have associated with banks to provide scholarships for girl students, pension for widows. New laws have been enacted to prevent sexual harassment in workplace, domestic violence against women and children. Sonia said she was apprehensive about the increase in violence against women.
“Kerala has implemented the Nirbhaya, a tangible project to secure the life of women. I inaugurated the scheme early this year in Kochi. Government’s initiatives are essential for women’s empowerment. But massive support from the people is also needed’’ she said. Presiding over the function, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said that Kudumbashree’s achievements had earned international acclaim and become pride of Kerala.
“Ashraya scheme has been providing great help to persons who have no one to rely on. Our Government adopt such people,’’ he said. He said the government was looking forward to bring the Kudumbashree products under a common brand to the market. Finance Minister K M Mani, Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, Industries Minister P K Kunhalikutty, Health Minister V S Sivakuamr, Shashi Tharoor MP, former Union Minister O Rajagopal spoke. Local Self-Government Minister M K Muneer welcomed the gathering and Kudumbashree executive director K B Valsala Kumari proposed a vote of thanks.