Early passage of Women's Bill a priority: President

Prez address to Parliament: Lists out govt priorities

Specifying the measures which her government would initiate within the next 100 days, she said: “Early passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill in Parliament, providing for one-third reservation to women in State legislatures and in Parliament, would be a priority.”

Observing that women still suffer multiple deprivations of class, caste and gender and enhancing reservation in local bodies would lead to more women entering the public sphere, the President said the government would work for a constitutional amendment to provide 50 percent reservation for women in panchayats and urban local bodies.

Apart from promising a concerted effort to increase the representation of women in central government jobs, the President also argued in favour of a National Mission on Empowerment of Women for the implementation of women-centric programmes in a mission mode.

She said her government would recast the National Literacy Mission as a National Mission for Female Literacy to make every woman literate in the next five years.

Female literacy

“Increased female literacy is expected to become a force multiplier for all our social development programmes,” she said.

She noted that while male literacy went up to over 75 per cent in the last census and is expected to be higher now, female literacy remained only 54 per cent.

The government would take steps to “considerably” enhance social security coverage by including all widows above the age of 40 in the old age pension scheme, the President said.

Social security

“My government considerably enhanced provisions for social security through old age pension for all people below the poverty line and above 65 years of age, all handicapped people and all widows above the age of 40,” she said.

Patil claimed that her government was “acutely conscious” of its responsibilities to provide greater opportunities for women, youth, other backward classes, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, minorities and the elderly as well as strengthen measures for social protection for categories with special vulnerabilities.

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