New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would like the NDA government to provide opportunities to women to work for three hours near their residence every day, and also devise a new concept of “office homes” for educated women aged above 45 years who had to quit their jobs due to marriage, childbirth or gender discrimination.
The ruling party’s wishlist for the empowerment of women has come in the form of an agenda document given to newly-elected women parliamentarians of the party.
Although the NDA government was silent on the women’s reservation bill in its first term, the BJP also wants its women MPs to raise the legislation in this term.
Following its resounding victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP believes that the overwhelming support it received from women voters was one of the reasons the party did so well.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal to the section is considered to be one of the major causes for the support.
There are 78 women in the 17th Lok Sabha, 34 of whom are from the BJP alone.
The BJP wants to pitch its women as torchbearers of society’s vulnerable sections by encouraging them to take up issues related to not just women, but also transgenders and children.
The strategy has been finalised under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah and the party’s newly-appointed working president J.P. Nadda in consultation with the BJP’s Mahila Morcha chief Vijaya Rahatkar.
The agenda document describes “homemakers” as the section of population with “the most untapped energy”, and proposes the creation of “Greh Lakshmi Kendras” to provide them with opportunities to work near their homes. The same reasoning drives the call for focus on educated women above the age of 45 years.
“We have to focus on women who had to leave jobs due to marriage, childbirth or gender discrimination in responsibility assignments,” the paper says. “The government may devise a new concept of small home office especially for them,” it adds.
The bills on the agenda
The party has listed a few bills for which it expects women MPs to participate “actively”: To get them passed, or at least to build momentum around them.
They include the Registration of Marriage of Non-Resident of India Bill, the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights in Marriage) Bill, which was reintroduced last week after it lapsed with the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha, the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2016, which could not be passed in the Rajya Sabha, and the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill and the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, which met the same fate.
The Registration of Marriage of Non-Resident of India Bill seeks to check the exploitation of Indian women by NRI spouses, while the Muslim women bill intends to criminalise instant triple talaq. The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2016 intends to regulate the business while preventing the exploitation of poor women, and the Transgender persons bill seeks to address the centuries-old oppression of the community.
The document also talks about “gender budgeting”, which means taking women’s interests into account while preparing budgets, and the national women’s policy for equal rights, whose draft was approved by a group of ministers in 2016 but is still pending.
Among other things, the MPs have been asked to help improve women’s participation in the workforce and calls on them to initiate policy changes for better work conditions.
New segment to focus
The paper also puts special focus on the cause of minority women, saying a special law should be passed to ensure justice to minority women who are the victims of triple talaq, nikah halala and female genital mutilation.
Speaking about the paper, a BJP MP said it also gave a “special thrust… to the establishment of health facilities for women that include mental health centres, infertility treatment at government hospitals and free treatment of rape and acid attack victims under the Ayushman Bharat Scheme”.