MUJHE PANKH DEDO : BAHU NAHI BAHUMAT
- IWB Post
- April 4, 2014
When they were saying everything is all fun and game for the new generation, we received this article in our mail box. Written by a 26 years old Jaipur girl, KRITIKA SHARMA, she fires a question to all of us – those who need votes and those who will vote. As the elections are close approaching, let us check if we are voting for the deserving party.
“Several years ago, a dinner-table conversation about state elections in Himachal Pradesh veered towards a candidate who gave away pressure cookers to woo women voters. Of course, bribing voters is illegal, but I am still wondering if all she wanted as a woman was a pressure cooker?
The Delhi rape case and the molestation of a young girl in Guwahati last year have underscored the place that women often occupy in Indian society. These incidents have made me wonder to what extent our country’s political parties will focus on gender inequality as they look forward to the 2014 general elections. How will they vie for the women’s vote?
Until now, political parties and their largely male leadership focused on the ‘aam aadmi’ or the common man, a phrase which subsumes women. Politicians and other public figures don’t make much hay of gender inequality toward women that hurt a large portion of our society — and when they do, they’re often lacking. The best attitude that politicians often apply to women is a patronizing one. Instead of focusing on women’s empowerment through education and awareness, politicians distribute saris, cookers and sanitary napkins.
There is some attempt to change that. The Congress party’s weekend “Chintan Shivir“, or brainstorming session in Jaipur put a special focus on women.
“Discrimination against the girl child and atrocities against women are a blot on our collective conscience,” party chief Sonia Gandhi said while opening the gathering. “Gender issues are fundamental and should be of concern to all of us.” The party has come up with a new slogan, “Pehle mahila ka samman, phir Bharat nirman” — First respect women, then build the nation. This could be seen as an attempt at targeting the women voter.
However, the idea is not just appeasing women, but recognizing them as an important part of the electorate and the democracy, and considering their specific needs as a part of developing national policy.
For most of the larger parties, the issue of women’s participation in the political process boils down to the question of the Women’s Reservation Bill, which has been languishing for years. But the issue is not limited to reservation.
Women are not seen as politically important as their votes are taken for granted. I wonder if any political party will be brave enough to reach out to women’s votes in the next elections — with an invitation to be taken seriously. That’s much better than receiving a pressure cooker.”
By: Kritika Sharma