Leader of the Opposition in the Assam Legislative Assembly Debabrata Saikia while stating that women were more or less empowered in India’s Northeast, said that the only sphere in which they lagged behind was in political empowerment.
Addressing the Conference of CPA Indian Region, Zone III and NE Chapter of Speaker’s Research Initiative in Guwahati on Monday, Saikia said that the sphere where women of the north-eastern region needed a special fillip was the political arena.
“The number of women local body leaders, legislators and ministers in the region is still very inadequate. The case of Nagaland may be cited as an example. The system of rotating posts reserved for women in local bodies seems to be an impediment to women establishing a stronghold in politics, “he said.
In his speech he went on to say that in this context, he felt quite proud as a Congressman that their party president, Rahul Gandhi, had been exerting pressure upon the Prime Minister to table to pass in the Parliament the Women’s Reservation Bill, which sought to reserve 33 per cent seats in the Lok Sabha and all state legislative assemblies for women.
“Not only that, Rahul Gandhi has set a goal of reserving 50 per cent of all posts under the Indian National Congress for women members in the time to come. It needs to be noted that empowerment of women will remain haphazard and patchy unless unbiased and pragmatic policies are framed and executed with due urgency. The self-help group system has shown that women can rise to various challenges if the opportunity is given. Therefore, it is the bounden duty of law-makers and the executive alike to boost women’s participation in decision-making and institutional politics. The results will follow just as day follows night,” Saikia said.
The Opposition leader said that empowerment of women was not an alien concept as far as the north-eastern region was concerned.
“It is perhaps known to all of you that the Khasi community of Meghalaya represents a matrilineal society, where women not only enjoy a monopoly over property rights but also take pride in participating in every aspect of day-to-day life as equals and, sometimes, as leaders,” he said.