W – Women | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z
Today morning I read a report about two women being abducted and raped by a man and filmed throughout the process to extract money. If this wasn’t the terrible part, the wife of the man involved in raping the victims was the one who filmed these women. Hence I decided to dedicate this post on the important issue of women and their participation in politics.
At the time of every General Elections, political parties come out with their manifestos and starting wooing the voters. Over the years they have tried to woo the women voters on the name of Women’s Reservation Bill. The honest reality is for the past 23 years since it’s initial proposal in 1996, the Women’s Reservation Bill is still floating around with no concrete steps being taken on it.
The Women’s Reservation Bill would have reserved 33% of the total seats in both the houses for women candidates. The stats tell a different story.
As of data from the first phase of elections 2019, less than 8% of the total 1,271 candidates contesting are women. As of 2014, there are only 11.8% women in Lok Sabha and 11.4 % of in Rajya Sabha, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
The current Lok Sabha has Just 12.6% of 543 current members as women, far lower than the world average of 24.3%. You will be shocked to know that we are even behind so-called extremist nations like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh where the representation is 27.3%, 20.2% and 20.6% respectively.
Only two parties from the current political fray have agreed to field around 33% women candidates. BJD of Odisha announced 33% seats for women candidates while TMC of West Bengal is giving around 41%. The story has another side to it as well. While the claim of BJD is right what it doesn’t tell is that out of these candidates about half of them are from political families and lineages.
Research by Amrita Basu in Kanchan Chandra’s ‘Democratic Dynasties: State, Party and Family in Contemporary Indian Politics’ finds that 43% of the women elected to Lok Sabha had family members precede them in politics. Surprisingly, only 19% of male MPs were from dynastic families.
The current ruling party made a huge political issue of a gruesome rape of a girl in the national capital. I still remember the towns being painted with slogans of how the current government will eradicate or at least try to curb crimes against women.
But still, cases of violence against women increased by 40 % from 2012 to 2016, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. A woman was raped every 13 minutes, a bride was murdered for dowry every 69 minutes, and six women were gang-raped every day in India in 2016.
Adding to the rhetoric, in the 2014 General Elections, BJP gave only 8.8% tickets to women candidates and Congress just 12.9%. In the Karnataka elections in May 2018, only 6 of the 224 candidates fielded by the BJP were women less than 3% of total candidature while Congress miserably hovering around 4%.
Since the first Lok Sabha of 1951 where women participation was only 4.5%, it has precariously grown to 12.15% in 2014. While the voter turnout has considerably improved over this period, it is still somewhere around 66% for women.
A lot can be said about the males of the dominant society but with powerful female leaders too, the situation still remains grim. You would see women politician taking sexist potshots at other female candidates. The whole psyche is rotten we all know that…how these powerful politicians view and perceive women is simply deplorable.
In the afternoon in front of media, they would be touching their feet out of respect while during nights they would be disrobing them in their rave parties at their farmhouses. We have case after case where a women politician or women closely linked to a politician is running a flesh trade. Government-run shelter homes for adolescent girls have been converted into their playhouses where the screams and cries will never escape the massive political walls.
Not all is grim and there is still some hope.
United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research’s (UNU-WIDER) work last year with data from 4,265 state assembly constituencies across four election cycles found that female representatives report a higher economic growth, about 1.8% more annually, than male legislators.
This supports previous findings by IndiaSpend, which reported women panchayat leaders in Tamil Nadu invested 48% more money than their male counterparts in building roads and improving access. Another study by the United Nations found that women-led panchayats delivered 62% higher drinking water projects than those led by men.
The Panchayati Raj systems exhibit a far more fair and gender-neutral playing ground for women – While the reservation for women is only for 33% of the seats, women make up 46% of the elected representatives in institutions.
Between 1957(the earliest data available) and 2015, the total number of women contestants has increased from 45 to 668. That is a whopping 15-fold increase in the number of women contesting. If we looked at the data for male contestants for the same years, the number has increased from 1474 to 7583, a 5-fold increase.
That means more and more women are participating and are willing to take up politics.
In 1971, the success rate for men contesting elections was 18%, whereas it was 34% for women, which is twice that of men. For the current Lok Sabha, the success rate was 6.4% for men and 9.3% for women.
All I can say is for women to improve the condition of women in the society and politics, more of them have to come out and join the mainstream politics otherwise the male dominant structure will continue to use them for their gains.
The current ideology of extremism doesn’t help either. Everyone knows how they view and treat women where they are nothing more than a commodity.
For all the women out there…please go out and vote and make sure your vote counts.
For all those who believe in gender equality,
For all those who think women should join politics,
For all those who treat women with respect,
For all those who love women as they are…
It’s not a goodbye,
But it’s a GOOD BYE.
Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul.
This is the 23th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Politics Category is ‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’, where I would be covering some relevant issues with the General Elections 2019 through the course of 26 posts.
Read the previous post here: IPL – Indian Parliamentary League
Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with letter ‘X’
I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘Dubai – City of Gold‘. If you love travel head over to the Travel Theme and share your feedback.