In damage control moe, UPA chief Sonia Gandhi expresses regret over failure to pass women's quota bill

'With the Lok Sabha elections looming large, my greatest regret is that the Women Reservation Bill has not been able to be passed in the Lok Sabha for lack of consensus though it has been approved by the Rajya Sabha', she said here.

Gandhi made the observation while launching the 'Nirbhaya Kerala Surakshita Kerala' - Fearless Kerala, Secure Kerala - programme, a government-civil society initiative to tackle crimes against women and children.

'It is a matter of deep anguish for all of us that harassment against women continues in many parts of the country. I do not have to remind you of the shameful happenings in Delhi and Mumbai. It is a matter of concern that such happenings are repeated,' Gandhi said.

She, however, added that her party would continue its struggle for the legislation which seeks to reserve 33% of seats in Parliament and legislatures for women.

Noting that the UPA government had initiated several schemes for welfare of women, she said the government schemes alone would not ensure safety of women. It required awareness campaigns and training young minds from the school level to respect women in all fields.

'It is a matter of concern that atrocities against women and children are increasing. Government schemes are, of course, essential and are of great importance. What is required is a change in the society's attitude towards women,' Gandhi said.

Pointing that Kerala had been a model for women empowerment, she said social reform movement initiated by Sree Narayana Guru had played a vital role in this area.

Referring to the new scheme, Gandhi said, 'I am relieved that Kerala is doing something tangible which could be replicated in other states.' Increased surveillance and creation of public awareness which form the part of the programme would certainly instil greater confidence in women, she added.

Lauding the UDF Government's proposal to start six new all-woman police stations, Gandhi wanted it to raise the presence of women in the state police force from the present 5% to 25% in the coming years.

State home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said the scheme would be implemented with the cooperation of various government departments, NGOs and neighbourhood groups like Kudumbasree and Janashree. As part of the scheme, 12,000 women volunteers would make a house-to-house visit across the state to know about the problems faced by women.

Chief minister Oommen Chandy and Union ministers Vayalar Ravi and K V Thomas, state ministers K M Mani, P K Kunhalikutty, M K Muneer and K Babu were present on the occasion.
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