New Delhi :
In a push towards women empowerment, government today said it planned to increase their quota in panchayat polls from 33 per cent to 50 per cent and hoped that all political parties will back an amendment in this regard when it is brought in the budget session of Parliament.
At the inaugural session of a two-day national workshop on ‘Implementation of PESA Act: Issues and way forward’, Union Minister Birender Singh said the government plans to bring about changes in law to reserve wards for women for two terms of five years each so that they can undertake developmental activities “in a continued fashion”.
At present, a ward is reserved for women candidates only for a single term.
“We are planning to make a Constitutional amendment to increase women’s reservation in panchayat polls to 50 per cent. We hope to bring those during the coming budget session. I think it will be a step which will empower not only women, but rural areas too,” Singh said.
According to an official statement, the Rural Development, Drinking Water and Sanitation Minister expressed hope that all parties will extend support in the passage of the amendment during the budget session which begins on February 23.
In line with the 73rd Amendment of the Constitution, Panchayati Raj institutions currently have 33 per cent of all seats reserved for women.
Among other moves, Singh said the government is planning to increase ward reservation for women from present one to two two terms (totalling 10 years) so that a candidate feels enthused to do public work and her leadership too is strengthened.
The Minister said government is also mulling reduction in the age limit for offering pension to widows. Currently, widows aged above 40 are eligible for pension. Singh, however, refused to specify the details of the plan, saying it is at a “nascent stage”.
He made a strong pitch for the implementation of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, by states for the upliftment of tribals, saying that adivasis “cannot wait any longer” for development.
Union Minister of State for Panchayati Raj Nihal Chand said the workshop was the first initiative in nearly 20 years towards implementation of the Act.
Panchayati Raj and Tribal Development ministers from 10 states are attending the workshop.