ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Beyond Mere Gestures

Enhancing women's reservation in panchayats is good but it is not enough.

Seventeen years after the Constitution was amended to reserve one-third of the seats in panchayats for women, the union cabinet has approved increasing this reservation to 50%.

The move has been met with widespread welcome, but there is also apprehension that this surprise enhancement is the centre’s way of making up for the lack of any forward movement on the Women’s Reservation Bill that has been hanging fire since 1996. (See the commentary, “Reservation for Women in Panchayats: A Sop in Disguise?”, p 8, in this issue.) The experiences of women panchayat members since 1992 have been filled with a large number of problems in the course of their work. Merely enhancing the reservation percentage is unlikely to help in dealing with these problems.

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