Pramila Dandavate: Pioneer of Women’s Reservation Bill Advocacy

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Pramila Dandavate, a prominent socialist and Janata Dal leader hailing from Mumbai, is celebrated for her groundbreaking initiative. She introduced The Constitution (81st) Amendment Bill, which fervently advocated for a 33% reservation for women in both Parliament and state legislatures. Her advocacy laid the foundation for substantial change in Indian politics.

Born on August 27, 1928, in Malvan Taluka of Konkan, Maharashtra, Pramila’s political journey commenced at an early age. Initially aligning with the women’s wing of the RSS, she eventually distanced herself, finding their ideology too restrictive. Her perspective evolved, with a growing commitment to addressing societal issues, especially the welfare of the marginalized.

In 1980, Pramila Dandavate entered Parliament, representing Mumbai North Central in the Lok Sabha. Notably, she collaborated across party lines with Mrinal Gore to amend the Anti-dowry and Sati Prevention Acts, highlighting her dedication to women’s rights.

Pramila’s unwavering commitment to Jayaprakash Narayan’s Total Revolution led to her imprisonment during the Emergency. She was a staunch participant in various movements, including the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement, Land Liberation Movement, Anti Price-rise Protests, and Malvan Port Facilities Agitation. During the Emergency, she endured an 18-month jail term under MISA (Maintenance of Internal Security Act) at Yerwada.

In 1976, she established the Mahila Dakshata Samiti in Delhi, expanding its branches nationwide. Her advocacy extended to co-authoring “Widows, Abandoned and Destitute Women in India” (1989) with Jamila Verghese and Dr. Kumari.

One of her most significant contributions was her demand for 33% reservation for women in Parliament and Vidhan Sabha, a cause she championed during VP Singh’s government in 1989. Pramila had been drafting charters for women’s rights since the 1970s. Her journey also led her to join the Rashtriya Sevak Dal, a rival organization to the RSS, shaping her personality profoundly.

Pramila Dandavate’s relentless advocacy paved the way for a transformative change in Indian politics, and her legacy continues to inspire generations of women leaders.

Re-reported from the article published in Shethepeople

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