BFF-53 India’s Congress promises jobs to women ahead of polls

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INDIA-VOTING-GENDER-EMPLOYMENT

India’s Congress promises jobs to women ahead of polls

NEW DELHI, March 13, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi
on Wednesday promised that one third of government jobs and seats in
parliament would be reserved for women if his Congress party wins power in
national elections.

An estimated 430 million women are eligible to vote in mammoth elections
starting next month in India, which has one of the world’s lowest rates of
female participation in the workforce.

Gandhi, who is hoping to thwart Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push for a
second term in office, said it was important to address this gender imbalance
and pledged quotas in national government jobs and parliament.

“Women are generally smarter than men,” he told a women-only gathering at
a college on a campaign stop in southern Chennai city.

He said a Congress government would ensure one third of state jobs were
reserved for women, and promised a similar quota for seats in the lower house
of national parliament via legislation.

Congress failed to push the law through parliament during their decade in
government, that ended in 2014 when Modi’s right-wing Hindu Bharatiya Janata
Party (BJP) thumped them in national elections.

Sixty-one women were elected to the lower house of parliament, the Lok
Sabha, out of a possible 543 seats in the 2014 election. Despite the
disparity, this was the highest number of female parliamentarians since
India’s independence in 1947.

India performs dismally on the employment of women, ranking 120 among 131
countries in female labour force. Poor conditions and weak laws also mean
women’s rights at work are not safeguarded.

The World Bank has reported that just over a quarter of women are part of
India’s workforce — compared to nearly 80 percent of men — and contribute
just 17 percent to GDP in Asia’s third-largest economy.

Nearly 20 million women dropped out of the workforce between 2005 and
2012, mainly due to family responsibilities or workplace discrimination, the
report added.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee released her All India
Trinamool Congress list of candidates this week, offering 17 of its 41 seats
to women.

The list included regional actresses Mimi Chakraborty and Nusrat Jahan
while Moon Moon Sen, a former actress who won in the 2014 election, will be
contesting again.

“I am all the more happy & proud because 41 percent of our candidates are
women. Trinamool’s list speaks for itself,” said Banerjee, who has ruled West
Bengal since 2011.

Her counterpart in neighbouring Odisha state, Naveen Patnaik, also
announced 33 percent of parliamentary seats would be reserved for women in
the state.

BSS/AFP/ARS/1941 hrs