ByÂ Amarpreet Kaur:
The political set-up of any country in the world today is incomplete without the effective participation of women. Women form an integral part of our society. Hence, it is imperative to have a healthy representation of women in various governing bodies so that they can voice the issues concerning the female sex in a competent manner. Politics basically deals with the law-making policies and administrative aspects of a government at various levels; at the grass root or the rural level, at the state or the urban level and at the central level. In a world today, where we talk about equality in every sense of the word, equality of gender is something that has special significance. Thus the integration of women into the political framework of a nation is a means to achieve that end.
If we delve a little into the background, let us try and understand why the need for politics and democracy was felt. The reasons can be found in the fact that people needed a voice, a voice that could put forward their problems and concerns and work upon finding effective solutions to address the same. And the best person to represent it would obviously be the one who himself or herself has been a part of that environment and experienced the pros and cons of the situation hands on. Likewise, when it comes to women, there is certainly no doubt about the fact that it is a woman only who can handle issues pertaining to the fairer sex in a comprehensive and unbiased manner.
What we see in world politics today as a result is women being active members in all spheres of political activity. India, Australia, United States of America, Egypt and so on; you name any country and you will find women at the helm of political activities. Sonia Gandhi, Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee, Sheila Dixit, Jayalalithaa, Sushma Swaraj- these are women who have been playing a significant role in Indian politics over a period of time. Pratibha Patil held the top-most office of the country as the President of India for a five-year tenure. If we look at Australia, presently Julia Gillard holds the office of the Prime Minister. Similarly there are other nations as well that have a history of women in politics.
There are plenty of issues that plague women today: sexual harassment and rape, economic empowerment, social status, health and family planning issues and female foeticide among others. As unfortunate as it may sound, the reality is that women have not been able to do justice to their prime purpose of venturing into politics which is advocating and bringing into effect practical remedies to address the above issues. There has not been any remarkable change as far as the status of women in society is concerned. This failure can be attributed to a multitude of reasons. First and foremost are the numbers. The female representation in the parliaments has not been substantial; the facts and figures show that only about 10-20 percent women get to be a part of the legislative assemblies. Rather, in most of the countries this figure stands at single digit, not even touching the 10 percent mark. The other reason has been that major portfolios such as finance, security and external affairs – spheres that entail dynamic decision-making, have rarely been held by women. It has been male dominated all throughout. So expecting that women’s concerns will be highlighted is being a bit too ambitious. Though I take nothing away from the men in power who have been working for the betterment of women in the society; but the fact stands that no major improvement can happen unless women get to exercise authority and make bold decisions to uphold their interests.
Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Member of Parliament from Bathinda, is synonymous with the ‘Nanhi Chhaan’ campaign: an initiative to save the girl child. And the message that she is out to spread against female foeticide, has reached the masses for sure. But these are just small and humble beginnings. A lot more is required if we want to see major outcomes.
Let us talk about America. Elections are round the corner in the land that we all know as the global superpower. The elections here have always witnessed a gender gap in terms of the number of men and women supporting a particular candidate. Women have shown an inclination to cast their votes in favor of candidates who have made efforts to work for women rights. This again is nothing but an indication of the fact that what women really do want is their voice to be heard.
Women representation in politics is something that has been discussed and debated upon a number of times. I am sure it is going to be a huge boost for the women if they get a stronger hold on decision-making in governance. But one more advantage that it has is this – Women are the ones who mostly take care of the children in the house and with the connection that they have with them, I am sure they are in a great position to understand the issues that affect the children. This for me implies that every single woman in politics, not only represents the voices of her fellow females, but also a voices of the children of the country.
I would love to conclude with this quote from Diane Mariechild. It appropriately sums up the potential that a woman has. This potential can work wonders everywhere and politics is one among them. “A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.”