I am always surprised when like- minded men turn hostile at the mention of the Women’s Reservation Bill. Indeed more than once, I have been subjected to some abusive tirade on the subject from extremely pale male members of the human species, their bodies writhing in anger, telling me how irrational such a bill, were it to pass, will be. Rationally, ofcourse, reservation of seats does not give credence to merit; it divides an already divided society. Irrationally, ofcourse, women persist in believing that women have had a raw deal in the past and need to feel represented in the public sphere. Irrationally, also, women believe that the raw deal they have had in the past actually has a bearing on what their life is today.
We don’t need women in parliament because they are ‘better’ or ‘more peaceful’ or ‘more nurturing’ than men. Women and men are equal, in that there are just as many bad men as there are bad women and just as many belligerent women as there are belligerent men.
We don’t need women in parliament because they can take up issues of female reproductive rights or other such ‘female’ oriented issues. Any man with some imagination ( that’s what we mean when we ask for a visionary leader btw) and with some inputs others he interacts with ( who, ideally, should be represented by both genders) should be able to think up issues that concern the female. That is the beauty of democracy. You don’t HAVE to take unilateral decisions. So why do we need women to raise ‘female’ issues.
We do need women in parliament, however, because nearly 50% of the population is female and the abysmal 8.2% in parliament can hardly be a democratic results. Such results can only mean two things, 1. That women are just not as good as men or 2. They, obviously, have constraints and cannot seem to be able to appear and sustain an appearance in the public sphere.
We do need women in parliament, as a friend put it, because they bring to the table their different experiences. And that definitely makes the democratic processes rich and meaningful.
Women do need women in parliament to assert their rights on the ‘male’ issues. they should be allowed to bring their experiences to the ‘male’ issues like defense of the country or the finances.
This should be enough reason to support the Women’s Reservation Bill. And yes, it may mean that we just replace unscrupulous, rich, power crazy men with unscrupulous, rich, power crazy women. If the chances of one of these parliamentarians emerging a good administrator or leader is slim, we would have just increased the chances, assuming good administrators are equally distributed across the genders.