Time to storm a Male bastion

  • Shilpy Arora / FG
  • India
  • Mar 14, 2014



Even after decades of democracy, Women in politics have still not got their fair share of governance. In a City like Gurgaon, despite there being 12 Women Councillors (out of a total of 35), there are no women in the top three posts of the Municipal Corporation (MCG). The role of women in decision-making remains negligible. They rarely influence the policies of Parties, let alone the Nation. Usually the working of a woman politician is limited to the Women's wing of the Party. However, there are a few women who, despite all odds, joined politics and are working hard to make a difference. Nisha Singh, Councillor from Ward 30, is one of them. “My aim is to make Gurgaon a safe place for Women, and make them believe – and then act accordingly - that the City is of them, for them and by them. Participation of women in politics is increasing at the national level, but it should also happen at the District and Panchayat level,” says Nisha. Many new-age women politicians feel that politics is not a battleground, but a platform to effect social change. The aspirations are high even in the rural areas. “We want to show the world that if women are given a chance to be decision-makers, they can make a difference. I was earlier never interested in politics; but I realised that there is a need to take active part in politics, so that issues in our area - be they civic or social - get addressed immediately,” says Seema Pahuja, Councillor, Ward 31. Women volunteers at political parties are also making an important contribution. 24-year-old Kirti, a young Civil Engineering student, has been working with the Congress Party for the six months. She is deeply involved in Media co-ordination and handling the Student wing of the Party. She also gives suggestion to the candidates on a range of issues - including Women’s safety and price rise. Shalu (name changed), a volunteer at AAP, handles the Student wing and the administrative work of the Party. These women may not have a thorough understanding of the country’s political system, but through hard work and determination, they are embark on a new journey in Indian politics - in which Women can have an equal participation. Indian politics has many times witnessed ‘dummy’ Women politicians, which raises question on the relevance and engagement of Women in the Indian political system. The scenario in small towns, tehsils and villages is even worse. Mukta Parihal, Senior Officer, Water Department, Haryana, informs, “Even when a women ends up becoming a Sarpanch, a Councillor or an MLA, most of the decision making is done by her husband and other male members of her family – though their husbands are called ‘mukhiyapati’, ‘parshadpati’ or ‘vidhayakpati’.” For Rishwa Walia, a resident of Sector 57, this is a major reason that people don’t vote for Women candidates. “I don’t vote for them as they don’t participate in politics actively. There is hardly any Woman politician in the State who takes decisions independently and speaks her mind,” she says.

Is quota a solution?

The Women’s Reservation Bill, to reserve 33 per cent of the Lok Sabha seats for women, was conceptualised and introduced in Parliament long ago. The aim was to help eradicate the patriarchal system and to improve the engagement of women in Indian politics. However, the Bill is still pending in the Lower House. Undoubtedly the reluctance of political parties to pass the Bill reflects old patriarchal mindsets and lack of belief in Women candidates. There is a need to understand that a quota could be a major relief for Women in villages. Participation of Women at the grass-roots level politics – at Panchayat and District level – will help in the betterment of every village and will soon be reflected at the national level. “Women are not well-represented. No political party is willing to give a quota to Women. They only talk about Women’s issues. One can find many competent women in a city like Gurgaon, but then the lack of opportunities to join politics is a major issue,” feels Seema. Modern women, however, don’t think that quota is required for Women to have equal representation in politics. “If we give Women a quota, it means we are not considering them equal to men,” says Pragya, a student of Amity University.

A ray of hope

Women in the City have great expectations from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Women feel that the Party can play a major role in their development. “AAP is a Party that has a non-communal view and thus can focus more on Women’s safety and Women empowerment. Besides, AAP has aggressively involved Women at various important positions, even to handle important political activities. That is what makes me feel that the Party is doing better than its counterparts, when it comes to the participation of Women in politics,” says Rishwa. Women candidates should therefore use politics as a platform to prove that they can perform just like their male counterparts - and even better.


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