From a scenario where a tiny handful of women MPs were once to be seen, but not heard very much, in the House, to India's first full-time woman Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presenting the Budget today, women's representation in India has taken a significant step forward.
What is also significant is that the last fortnight in Parliament has been dominated by women MPs, whether Mahua Moitra of the TMC with her fiery 'fascism' speech or indeed, Nusrat Jahan of the same party, with softer words but steely-firm intent displayed towards detractors of her 'sindoor', et al.
Even more siginificant, in the rightful storm caused by these women MPs, is the quiet emergence of two more.
Chandrani Murmu and Pramila Bishoyi.
Both first-time MPs and both from Odisha, who gave their first speech yesterday in the House.
Adorable scenes in #LokSabha ????Two first-time MPs spoke for the first time & the whole house thumped their desks vigorously.Youngest MP, 26-yr-old Chandrani Murmu (BJD) & the champion of the self-help movement in Odisha, 70-yr-old Pramila Bisoyi (BJD) pic.twitter.com/dknfVK7ixj— Poulomi Saha (@PoulomiMSaha) July 4, 2019
Unlike Nusrat Jahan or Mahua Moitra, they didn’t set the House on fire with either a bold move or a bold speech. But the House took note of them.
Chandrani Murmu is the youngest MP in this Lok Sabha.
But her speech did not betray the fact that this 25-year-old BJD leader is a greenhorn in politics. She represents Keonjhar which, despite being rich in natural resources, has been witnessing high migration of people because of unemployment, rampant mining being a reason.
Clad in a simple yellow saree, when the youngest MP stood up and wished everyone on the occasion of Rath Yatra, the House clapped. When she offered her proposal to the Centre for setting up a steel plant in Keonjhar like that of Rourkela, the House listened to her with attention.
69-year-old Promila Bishoyi from the BJD also made waves. Simple and quiet, the MP does not resemble our urban womens' rights champions. She studied till Class 2 and she wears all the traditional tokens of a married woman. But Speaker Om Birla took a moment to introduce her to the House — the woman behind 70,000 women self-help groups in her area.
With a veil over her head, Promila Bishoyi stood up, wished all a happy Rath Yatra — and placed her demand for a hike in the remuneration of ASHA workers, all in Odia as she doesn’t speak Hindi or English.
This Lok Sabha sees the highest representation of women with 78 women in the lower House. 46 of them are first-timers. A day before, Speaker Om Birla had said that all first-time women MPs will get a chance to speak. And, as they speak — in a variety of languages and on a variety of issues — we get to see various hues of women's struggle. And women's empowerment.
We are proud.