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% 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% women as their representatives.
In this connection a policy decision has been taken by the
Government in principle to provide 50% reservation for women in elected local
bodies. This decision will improve the representation of women in Panchayat Raj
and Urban local bodies from the existing 33% to 50%.
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% 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% 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 of over one crore rural and urban women. The Government have drawn up
plans to make appreciable improvement of income of 10 million SHG members in
the next 4 years by enabling them to take up self-employment activities with
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. Under the scheme, women of 60 years and above are assured a
monthly pension of Rs.500/- to 2,200/-. Over 43 lakh SHG members have already
enrolled in this novel scheme and 2.80 lakh beneficiaries are already drawing
their pension. The State Government have earmarked and contributed Rs.360.00
crores as premium during 2010-11.
The Government is also registering Indiramma Houses only
in the name of women to provide them the much need social security. To-date 51
lakh of about 86 lakh Indiramma houses are completed with all infrastructural
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. So far, 36.29 lakh BPL women have been
benefitted since the inception of the Deepam scheme. The State Government which
is committed to women development and child welfare is implementing a
comprehensive empowerment programme to benefit women, adolescent girls, and
destitutes. Andhra Pradesh is the first State to provide free education for
girls up to Intermediate and 33% reservation for girls in all colleges
including professional courses like Engineering, MBBS, MCA, MBA and other PG
has been one of the leading States in India to take up pro-active policy
decisions to empower the women as they are equal partners in growth and
development of the State. Accordingly a number of progressive steps and welfare
schemes to benefit the women have been taken up in the State in the past. Bank
loans at 3% annual interest (pavala vaddi) are being provided to women SHG
members and Andhra Pradesh is the leading state in this sector. Some of the
women SHG groups have become model entrepreneurs. The IKP women groups are even
procuring paddy on behalf of the Civil Supplies Corporation in the State.