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Khushboo Sharma

IWB Blogger

Rupali Mehra Helps Us Decode Elections From A Woman’s Perspective

  • IWB Post
  •  March 12, 2019

“India is competing on the world stage on technology, digitization, and soft power. It needs to change its perception on gender equality if we are to stay in the game in the long haul,” says writer Rupali Mehra, rightly stating everything that’s pulling India down right now.

Say what you may but India as a society remains deeply patriarchal. Sadly for us, it is some of our leaders who continue perpetuating sexist attitudes which makes things worse for the women in the country.

Be it PM Modi’s recent comment on Sonia Gandhi where he derogatorily called her a “widow” or Sharad Yadav’s comments on Vasundhara Raje’s weight, men in powerful political positions keep doing it time and again. And with just a handful of women in similar positions, fighting this misogyny gets rather tough and will remain so until women have a significant representation and say in politics.

With the country gearing up for 2019 general elections, this is the right time to discuss women’s representation in the country’s politics and also to approach the dynamic from a woman’s perspective.

In a recent Twitter chat with IWB, Rupali Mehra helped us do the same as she talked about the under-representation of women in recent elections and the women’s issues that need to be addressed in the upcoming elections.

Here are excerpts from the chat:

On the under-representation of women in recent elections

Rupali Mehra on Twitter

The facts and numbers are out there staring at us. Reports (@scroll_in piece) show that the number of women MLAs came down to 9% in 2018 from 11% in 2013-’14. There are only 62 women among the 678 MLAs who won in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram. https://t.co/Cz4MtEMQ7w

Rupali Mehra on Twitter

I would like to add another point that presently there are less than 12% women in Parliament. This is the biggest case in point of underrepresentation. In Sweden, which is also home for me now, it is 44%.

Rupali Mehra on Twitter

India is competing on the world stage on technology, digitisation and soft power. It needs to change its perception on gender equality if we are stay in the game in the long haul.

On how this slant threatens the policies regarding women and other genders

Rupali Mehra on Twitter

@indianwomenblog @scroll_in @ContentPeopleAB Lack of adequate representation of women in political space spills over to the social, economic and even physical space. Fewer voices of women are heard in the social space. It also results in women not having a voice to demand gender pay parity and equal work opportunities.

On the misogyny and masculine toxicity in recent elections

Rupali Mehra on Twitter

@indianwomenblog @ContentPeopleAB The most obvious case was the body shaming remark against former Rajasthan CM Vansundhara Raje. In the larger context this is reflective of the masculine toxicity where women are seen as objects and not equals.

Rupali Mehra on Twitter

@indianwomenblog @ContentPeopleAB There is an urgent need to change this mindset and this change needs to come through our policies, through our conversations at home, among peers and at work. However this is not just an India story. Sexism and masculine toxicity exists the world over, in varying degrees.

On the rampant content manipulation on social media

Rupali Mehra on Twitter

@indianwomenblog @ContentPeopleAB True. Sexist, derogatory, threatening and misogynistic posts on social media are being used as a tool to shame and subvert women. This once again stems from problem of curtailing the social space for women, and thereby their voice.

Rupali Mehra on Twitter

@indianwomenblog @ContentPeopleAB Precisely. It is also reflective of a deep rooted parochial system. I also think it is reflective of insecurity and inability to accept that women as equals and women as leaders and decision makers.

Rupali Mehra on Twitter

@indianwomenblog @ContentPeopleAB I also feel that when it comes to political coverage, we need to do many more stories on women. Women and their stories need to be woven into the narrative and the political discourse.

On how journalists/media persons can stay neutral, without being affected by political pressure

Rupali Mehra on Twitter

@indianwomenblog @ContentPeopleAB The stark underrepresentation of women in our physical, social and online space is noticed the world over. Outside India, I am often asked why women are not seen outside in public spaces as much as men, or why women are not represented adequately in debates and public discourse

Rupali Mehra on Twitter

@indianwomenblog @ContentPeopleAB More than any other medium today, digital media is an effective player to tell unbiased, good stories. The rise of more number of independent media channels and publications online will go a long way in ensuring fair reporting, neutrality and representation.

On some of the gender-related issues that should be highlighted in 2019

Rupali Mehra on Twitter

@indianwomenblog @ContentPeopleAB One is the Women’s Reservation Bill. I am aware that reservation has both pros and cons. But if that is the only way we tilt the scales when it comes to lack of representation of women in Parliament, the Bill needs to be passed urgently.

Rupali Mehra on Twitter

@indianwomenblog @ContentPeopleAB The other is storytelling & women. Many many more stories of women need to be told – not just in the media, but also in debates, political speeches, in the development sector & the corporate world. I am tagging @unwomenindia @UNDPasiapac @melindagates @HillaryClinton @GoogleIndia

On how the politics in 2019 will impact the emerging economies (India) vis-à-vis women

Rupali Mehra on Twitter

@indianwomenblog @ContentPeopleAB That is a good question as a final thought to this discussion. India needs to showcase itself not just as an attractive investment destination with one of the highest GDPs in the world, but also needs to rank high on the social index, and this includes gender. (cont..)

Rupali Mehra on Twitter

@indianwomenblog @ContentPeopleAB The upsetting fact is that while decision makers abroad find India an attractive, vibrant economy, they are also concerned about the lack of gender equality, lack of women in public spaces and about violence against women. This is looked at very closely and with a lot of concern

 

First published on Dec 19, 2018.

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