Hyderabad: As assured by the Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy during the International Women’s Day celebrations a few days back, steps are being taken to provide 50 per cent reservation for women in elected local bodies. The Chief Minister who is very particular to make legislations in this regard, has already moved the issue and wanted to see that in the next local body elections, Andhra Pradesh will see 50 per cent women as their representatives.
These reservations will be provided horizontally which means that each category of reservation i.e. SC, ST, BC as also the General category will have 50 per cent reservation for women. According to A.P. Panchayat Raj Act, the reservation provided for women is “not less than 1/3rd”. The new rules will increase this to 50 per cent and this will apply to all elected positions in the Gram Panchayats, Mandal Praja Parishads and Zilla Praja Parishads including the indirectly elected posts of Sarpanch, President Mandal Praja Parishad and Chairman Zilla Praja Parishad.
The reservations for women were first provided in Rules in 1995. The draft amendment to the rules, after this policy decision is being scrutinized by the Law department and the amended rules will be issued separately. Certain states like Chhattisgarh, Manipur, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh also have 50% reservation for women in local bodies.
Andhra Pradesh is at the vanguard in women empowerment. There are as many as 9.86 lakh active women Self-Help Groups (SHGs) in the State. The Government have drawn up plans to make appreciable improvement of income of 10 million SHG members in the next four years by enabling them to take up self-employment activities with credit linkage.
The State is a pioneer in enabling women to access credit at a subsidised interest of 3% under the Pavala Vaddi scheme. The State is also implementing a co-contributory pension scheme “Abhaya Hastham” for all the women SHG members. The Government is also registering Indiramma Houses only in the name of women to provide them the much need social security.
The State Government with an aim to improve the quality of life of the rural women and their health status has been providing LPG connections under the Deepam Scheme. Andhra Pradesh is the first State to provide free education for girls up to Intermediate and 33 per cent reservation for girls in all colleges including professional courses like Engineering, MBBS, MCA, MBA and other PG degrees.(NSS)