“ If by strength is meant brute strength, then, indeed, is woman less brute than man. If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior. Has she not greater intuition, is she not more self-sacrificing, has she not greater powers of endurance, has she not greater courage? Without her, man could not be. … “
– Mahatma Gandhi
The notion of ‘Women in Politics’ strike the picture of iron willed lady leaders, who commanded the course of a developing India. Women like Sarojini Naidu, Indira Gandhi and Gouri amma had asserted themselves as they allowed their magnanimity to befuddle the misogynists. Yet India faces a shortage of women representation in the parliament. The 33 percent quota that would entail for balanced decision-making is not met.
Instead our women are placed at a negligible minority of a mere 11 percent as opposed to the male ministers. How then would the gender sensitive issues be addressed evocatively? As the rural women battle male hierarchy, should their struggle not be heard at the parliament?
In a country where favoritism, patronage and opaque deal making take the better chunk of politics – egalitarianism is a rarity. More so in the case of women, who are considered as ‘ less winnable’ candidates before the elections. Women are fielded, for party people adhere to tokenism, rather than actual representation. Women politicians, who strive their way into politics, are sidelined on the basis of gender bias within the political scenario. However the recent elections show that the winds of change have begun to blow.
The party that drew a single majority for the first time in thirty years, has six women cabinet ministers spearheading various sectors like defense, minority affairs and education. Moreover, women consecutively chaired the post of the speaker of the Lok Sabha. The voter turn out by women has risen to a bolder 65.7 percent from what was just a scarce 38.8 in the late 50’s. Even the 11.2 percent of under represented women MP’s have marginally risen over the earlier 10.8 percent. The paradigm shift in proactive political participation and higher levels of women in politics can be attributed to the education that was bequeathed to the current generation by our ancestors. Empowered women result in women in power. Secondly, the vast advance of social media has made the political scene susceptible to more criticism than ever before – this in turn creates a direct link between the leaders and the mass. With an empowered mass, which wants to participate in the democratic process, women leaders can easily gain ground if they seek to deliver quality work. Finally, the nationalist parties of India have understood that Indians need change and not manifestos. Young India yearns for more employment opportunities, higher prosperity and transparent governance. This can only be achieved in the context of gender equality and social harmony. Hence the parties vouch for female representation at the center.
Politics had always been a forte of the men. The Indian woman, on the other hand ran the gears of the family. A slow yet steady shift is bound to create emancipated women who are no longer bound by the gender roles gauged in our society. Our future would have women rising as responsive citizens and reliable politicians. As India develops, the clenched fist of power shall loosen to accommodate a few bangles into its wrist.
Author : Ms. Meera Unnikrishnan, Ernakulam