Interacting with women from across the country as part of Congress' exercise of seeking direct inputs from stakeholders for its 2014 Lok Sabha election manifesto, Gandhi said he wanted "maximum possible" women in leadership positions. (Agencies)
"Empowering women is a big battle that we have to fight and win," he said and expressed confidence that not only the Women Reservation Bill that seeks to provide 33 percent quota to them in legislatures’ bodies will be passed but nearly half of the Congress ministers will be women in next five to ten years.
"Every woman is an asset for the country.... India cannot become a superpower without the empowerment of 50 percent population of women.... We have to bring your views in our manifesto," Gandhi said during the interaction as the women put forth their views frankly to the Congress vice-president, at times critical and demanding specific solutions.
"Women Reservation Bill is in Parliament. I assure that we will not let it go....We have to do this 33 percent reservation women in Parliament and Assemblies. Political parties also have a responsibility,” he said.
"My thinking is that there should maximum possible number of women in leadership positions. I want that among the ministers of Congress that you see now, there should be 50 percent women in next five to ten years," Gandhi said.
He said that there is a need to be aggressive and get going to ensure that women are empowered.
In his interaction laced with anecdotes, Gandhi also said, "I want to tell you my perspective...In my house, there was papa (Rajiv Gandhi), there was uncle (Sanjay Gandhi) but the boss of the house was my grandmother. There was no doubt about that that. Grandma was the boss.”
Noting that there is no difference in the capacity of a man and woman, he said, "Women do not need any protection. If you give them their rights, they can protect themselves."
Among the women present were sex workers, Anganwadi workers, besides members of Gulabi Gang, a group of women vigilantes and activists originally from Bundelkhand.
Interacting with women from across the country as part of Congress' exercise of seeking direct inputs from stakeholders for its 2014 Lok Sabha election manifesto, Gandhi said he wanted "maximum possible" women in leadership positions.