Women remain ‘weak gender’ in UPA-II shuffle

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

NEW DELHI - Not a single woman was inducted into the cabinet nor was any woman minister promoted to cabinet rank or minister of state rank with independent charge in the reshuffle of portfolios by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday.

“Despite all the brave talk, the representation of women remains low in cabinet and higher echelons of power,” Annie Raja, woman’s activist and Communist Party of India (CPI) leader, told IANS.

“The representation of women in the Union cabinet works out to be only 10 percent - eight ministers in the 78-member cabinet, against the much-touted 33 percent,” she lamented.

Many of the women are in-charge of portfolios “perceived to be insignificant”, she alleged.

The cabinet ministers in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s team are Mamata Banerjee (Railways), Ambika Soni (Information and Broadcasting) and Kumari Selja (Housing, Urban poverty alleviation and Culture).

Krishna Tirath is the lone minister of state with independent charge - Women and Child Development.

The four women ministers of state are - D. Purandeswari (Human Resource Development), Panabaka Lakshmi (Textiles), Preneet Kaur ( Ministry of External Affairs) and Agatha Sangma (Rural Development).

Though the names of several women, including those of National Commission for Women (NCW) chief Girija Vyas, All India Congress Committee secretary Meenakshi Natarajan, Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan and MP from Madhya Pradesh Vijaylaxmi Sadho were doing the rounds as probables, none of them made it to the union cabinet.

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