Indian President Pratibha Patil announced an initiative to pass legislation reserving a proportion of seats in the legislature for women yesterday. According to the plan Patil announced, one third of the seats in the national and state legislatures would be reserved for women and half of the seats in local governments would be reserved, reported the Guardian UK. Patil is India’s first woman president and this week, the parliament elected Meira Kumar as their first woman Speaker.
As part of the announcement, Patil said “Since women suffer multiple deprivations of class, caste and gender, enhancing reservation in panchayats and urban local bodies would lead to more women entering the public sphere,” reported the Times of India.
Concurrently, Patil also announced a mission to increase the literacy of women in India, where only 54 percent of women are literate and more than 75 percent of men are literate. Patil said, “My government will recast the National Literacy Mission as a National Mission for Female Literacy to make every woman literate in the next five years. Increased female literacy is expected to become a force multiplier for all our social development programs,” reported the Times of India. Patil also aims to increase women’s representation in government jobs.