The discussion was witnessed by a live audience and shared on the social media through a live webcast. The issue of the 33% Women’s Reservation Bill not being passed despite a strong campaign and promises from almost all the major political parties figured strongly in the discussion.
The panel included- Ms Nandita Das (Actor, Producer, Activist and Champion of Women’s Rights), Mr Kiran Karnik (Chairman, CII Telecom Committee and Chairperson, Oxfam India), Ms Rumjhum Chatterjee (Group Managing Director & Head – Human Capital, Feedback Infra Private Limited), Mr Grant M. Eldred (Human Capital Management, Goldman Sachs, Mr Martin Rama, Chief Economist, South Asia, World Bank. Ms Nisha Agrawal (CEO of Oxfam India) moderated the discussion.
The Inequality Townhall on Women’s Leadership is an extension of ‘CloseTheGap Campaign’ started by Oxfam in 2013 around the issue of social, economic and political ‘Inequality’
Against the backdrop of International Women’s Day, the panelists urged the bill to be passed no matter which government comes to power after the national elections, while acknowledging the problem of scheduled caste and class representation. Incidentally, the Bill was listed for being taken up in the recently concluded Parliament session, which the Government was even willing to extend to get the long-pending Bill passed.
“Are husbands holding back their wives even within educated-working middle class families? We need to ask these questions. As I explored in my play ‘Between the Lines’, inequalities exist in our homes too but in subtler forms and that makes it harder to confront. From a housemaid to a managing director, a woman is still expected to follow the unstated norms of holding back. This needs to change,” said Nandita Das, Actor, Producer, Activist and Champion of Women’s Rights.
“Companies are expected to have at least one independent women on the board. But that is bare minimum. There is no shortage of women with exceptional record and skills waiting to swell the ranks of corporate leadership. The companies must be more proactive and go beyond even up to 50 percent,” said Kiran Karnik, Chairman, CII Telecom Committee and Chairperson, Oxfam India.
“With close to 50 per cent as a voting population, merely 10 per cent participation in Parliament is absolutely not enough. We have waited for so long for the 33% Women’s Reservation Bill being passed and yet again we saw it being pushed back. Across the globe there are examples of how affirmative actions have led to increase in women’s political leadership,”