Iugurating a tiol conference of women legislators on Saturday, President Prab Mukherjee posed a question — how can there be empowerment of women without proper representation? It is a sad commentary for the country still not being able to ensure 33 percent representation for women in Parliament and State Assemblies, he said. Till date, representation for women in Parliament has never even crossed 12 percent. Referring to Vice President Hamid Ansari’s call to political parties to walk their talk on giving one-third tickets to women candidates, the President said that without ‘attitudil change’ to bringe about reservation, it is ‘too much to expect’ parties will fall in line. However, the Central government does not seem very hopeful of such a change materializing any time soon, as evident earlier on Thursday. Law Minister DV Sadanda Gowda informed Lok Sabha that there has to be ‘consensus among all political parties’ before the government can bring about a Constitution amendment bill to give 33 per cent reservation to women. The proposed Women’s Reservation bill has been gestating for 18 years, with political parties indulging in rhetoric and posturing to undermine it repeatedly. In March 2010, the Rajya Sabha did pass the Constitution (108th Amendment) bill after high drama, but it failed to clear the Lower House following dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha soon thereafter. The bill continues to remain ‘pending’, thereby firmly in cold storage. However, there is some hope still with the government lately indicating its readiness to push another bill to increase representation for women in urban local bodies and panchayats from 33 to 50 percent, and giving them two back-to-back terms.