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Who Is Afraid Of Women’s Political Participation In Aligarh Muslim University?

By Hiba Kakul:

The founder of Aligarh Muslim University, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, envisioned educating both men and women who would lead the Muslim community to enlightenment, liberation and progress through this institution. In this light, AMU appears to be a very reformed and gender-just institute. But dig a bit deep and you will realize that it is an ideal place to preach conservatism under the shiny cloak of promoting customs and traditions.

IMG-20141028-WA0006-2
Sketch by Lubna Irfan

Women leaders here have to fight not only the complacent administration, but also many stereotypes and the conservative call to focus on only studies and not contest in the students’ body polls. Women leaders have played an insignificant role in the AMU’s ‘glorious’ students’ politics as AMUSU has never seen a Woman President in its history of 80 years, moreover, a meager token participation of women is seen in the other posts as well. What could be the reason behind such insignificant participation of women in student politics? Especially in a university that stands amongst the top institutes of the country!

Most positions of power have always been held by men in this University, and the gender bias is clear. The strong opposition to women’s participation in student politics by a large section of men can be compared to how humans might react to the news of a possible invasion by some aliens into their lands. The obvious response from those men who feel threatened is a sort of ‘cultural imperialism’, making it easier for them to defend their territory. They make the customs here, and enforce them in the guise of Islam and the need for guarding women. According to them, the purpose of such a tradition of keeping women out of power is to ‘protect’ them from rape-culture.

My dear caring brothers, denying political power and equal representation to women is not much different from physically violating them.

When asked about her struggle while contesting for one of the ten seats of cabinet ship in AMUSU, Kehkashan Khan, a fellow student, got this reply – “Aapke bhai hain to ye sab karne ke liye, behno ko is sab mein aakr takleef lene ki kya zaroorat. Kahan kahan jaengi, kya kya karlengi?” (You have your brothers to do all of this for you, why do sisters need to take the trouble? Where would you run around? What all would you be able to do?). Sweet words that reek of sheer sexism. The oh-so-familiar ‘benevolent’ face of patriarchy.

amu-women-protest

Isn’t education supposed to equip women with the knowledge, awareness and skills to make informed decisions on their own, and not rely on their so-called ‘protectors’? Is it actually the girls’ safety they are so concerned about, or is it that the intervention of women would corrode the political game plans of these “regional” leaders in the university? Or is it about the alarming danger they see in women leaders? Does the strong will and determination make them nervous? Or let’s just say it’s a jackpot for the young politicians when the female vote bank of around 4000 is segregated from the main union by the administration.

The historical record of Islam shows that many distinguished women converted to Islam prior to their husband, which is a clear demonstration of Islam’s recognition of their conscience and capacity for independent action. Moreover, in Islam many women such as Queen of Sheba, and Aisha Abu Bakr (R.A.) held political powers independently and even with their husbands.

The above facts clearly show that the fundamentalists here try to instill fear in women by presenting to them an androcentric and misogynist interpretation of texts. And those who respond to the hierarchical norms and basic gender inequality are dismissed and shamed by being called a menace for the “tehzeeb” of the idara.

Women are the victims of the patriarchal culture, but they are its carriers too. We have often let men rule over us. We have given these benevolent sexists the authority to threaten us in the name of religion, to manipulate us by infusing in us the fear of being apostate on questioning problematic rituals. And we women judge and make each other a subject of criticism for having strayed from the tradition designed by the “cultured folks”.

You could either continue to enjoy your suppers of pseudo-aristocracy in the little domains monitored by some conservative guards and let the grey matter of your brains be tamed within the constraints of negligence and blind-faith, or stand against the agents of patriarchy and take control of areas you’ve been unfairly denied access to.

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Also Read: The AMU Library Story: How Women From Abdullah College Still Don’t Have Equal Access

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  1. Batman

    All great civilizations start out as strong patriarchies that value the family and male leadership after the society becomes wealthy women start gaining higher status. Matriarchies and feminism will lead to high divorce rates, single moms, poverty, a huge welfare state, and broken families and communities.

    Most women are not genuinely kind or compassionate. Their need and desire for security trumps EVERYTHING. Their looks are the ace in the hand. You can’t show me any really attractive woman whose main criterion for judging a man isn’t his wealth.

    They blame men for everything and justify it by referring to “patriarchy”, a political scapegoat. Most women can’t even understand their own biological tendencies and how women use their neotony and hypoagency to control men.

    1. Superwoman

      “Most women are not genuinely kind or compassionate”??? Have you not been loved by your mom, sister, friend or wife? Do you really think that they are just showing it off?

      Matriarchy is not same as feminism! Feminists don’t ask for matriarchy. If patriarchy is wrong, so is matriarchy!!

      Women’s “need and desire for security”…They need security if men cannot control their desires. I don’t think that’s the case and most women know that. As you can read from the article above it’s men scaring them of rape culture to keep them from being active members of the society.

      Women are not blaming men for anything. They just want control over their own lives and they are DUMPING the power PATRIARCHS have over it.

  2. Daredevil

    Demonizing patriarchy like a true feminist, with bullshit and lies. How else are women supposed to get an elevated position in society under the guise of equality, without working half as hard as men.

  3. Spider-Man

    Why is it that all schools in Aligarh comprise mostly of female staff members, who are not willing to leave their comforts despite being underpaid while their husbands are busy toiling in metropolitan cities earning good salaries, having to live in small rented apartments, travel to work in the sweltering heat, eat unhygienic and insipid food at ‘dhabas’, save every penny, travel every weekend to see their families and put up with a lot of headaches. Difference in position or salary depends on how much you are willing to sacrifice. Men do it. Women don’t. A man sheds blood, tears, and sweat to provide his wife ease and comfort. He toils in the office, all day, everyday, working endless hours, putting up with a lot of stress. Men spend their whole lives earning for women. How many women can honestly say they are willing to spend a lifetime earning for a man?

    1. Superwoman

      Earning?? What about the lifetime they spend in the house cooking and cleaning for the family.

      Talking of earnings, yes, if I love a person, man or a woman, I am ready to spend my lifetime earnings on him/her. I am a young college student and I am trying to get a job as soon as I can to lower the financial burden on my Dad. I am more than willing to give my whole earnings to my parents if that reduces their stress for us.

      Women don’t sacrifice!!!???? Which world do you live in? I have seen both my Mom and Dad shedding their blood, sweat and tears for me and my sister. Don’t be half-blind sir.

    2. Spider-Man

      Not sure why you are talking about what you can do for your parents and vice versa when the whole discussion is about spousal relationships, and the part about ‘sacrifice’ was for a career. You’ve got to read comments a little more closely.

    3. Superwoman

      I was giving answer to your last question. I gave the example of my parents because I am not in relationship with a man right now. I just wanted explain that f I can spend my earnings on my parents then I can do it on my partner and his family too.

      What do you mean by ‘sacrifice for a career’? Do you mean not helping in household work even if your partner happens to be working? Do you mean not helping with kids because that’s the sole responsibility of the female partner? You see both men and women can equal in professional life only if they are equal in their non-professional life too.

      Women are not inherently against ‘sacrificing’ for a career, but the patriarchal society has given her all the responsibility for the household. And if women suddenly decide to let go of all these responsibilities instead of slowly working for a systematic change, our society will crumble down pretty easy.

    4. Spider-Man

      Why is it always men leaving their native places and running to metropolitan cities, living tough lives, and many even shifting to Gulf countries, sending money to their wives while living in perpetual misery and agony. If we look at the example of Aligarh, why is it women who work as primary teachers? Why don’t they leave Aligarh and go work higher paying jobs in Delhi and endure the tough conditions there, and spend on their husbands while men work the easy job of primary school teachers and live a comfortable life in Aligarh?

    5. B

      Feminists always raise the issue of cooking to make women look like an oppressed majority, while the truth is that cooking is an activity most women enjoy. Also, a number of households employ maids to do all the household work. Add to it the fact that many women simply refuse to cook and order the husband to bring food from restaurants. If women don’t want to do anything after marriage, why do they marry in the first place? In India, go to Cafe Coffee Day or Barista Lavazza, and more often than not you will find a girl behind the counter, ready to make coffee for you. Women can work in coffee shops and serve all kinds of men (and women), women can work as waitresses and serve in restaurants, women can work as flight attendants and serve in planes, women can work in bars and serve everyone, but the moment a woman serves her husband, feminists go berserk. Is it any surprise that since the feminist movement, with its claims of emancipation and liberation, divorce rates have shot through the roof. The feminist movement, while harming men, is not doing any good for women either.

    6. Superwoman

      Yes, some women enjoy cooking and some don’t but that’s not the issue here. If a woman CHOOSES [HER OWN THOUGHTFUL CHOICE] to be a homemaker and then employs maid for every household activity including taking care of her kids then she is obviously pretty lazy. If instead a woman chooses to be a professional then it’s only fair that both the partners share household work or employ a maid. If you are saying that a woman who is working should also do all the household work then it would be called a ‘double job’ or ‘second shift’ and that is pretty unfair and happens in most families where both partners are working. Yes a person who is working has to take care of the home too but the work should be equally shared by all the members, male or female.

      As for your assumption that feminism has caused increase in divorce rate, there is no scientific causal evidence for that. Yes feminism has caused a lot women to break out of abusive and forced relationships and live life on their own terms but I find it good for a happy and healthy society.

  4. B

    Patriarchy is fine when women want expensive jewellery at the time of marriage, huge amounts in alimony, a lion’s share in a man’s property, and to swindle men out of their life savings. Patriarchy is fine when women want to use men life ATMs.

  5. B

    Gloria Steinem told us that a woman needs a man as a fish needs a bicycle, and the Gloria Steinem’s of today feel the need to tell men on blogs, speeches, and articles how men should behave, what they expect from men, how men should run their lives, etc. The truth is, feminists want to dictate how men should live their lives. They want men in servitude. Why don’t women cry patriarchy when they reduce husbands to ATMs who must house their wives, let them drive their car, take them to restaurants, on vacations, holidays, buy them jewellery, take them shopping, spend on their clothes, cosmetics, sandals, purses, spa, beauty saloons, pedicures, manicures, etc.

    1. swati

      why don’t men cry feminism when they reduce wives to free maid, nanny, child bearing machine, someone who take care of their parents f free living in their home away from her parents, sex toy, punching bag when you are angry etc

    2. B

      So a woman giving birth to a child because she wants kids or a woman looking after her kids and playing with them makes her a ‘nanny’ and a ‘child bearing machine?’ Or a woman working at home is a ‘maid?’ For countless women, being a homemaker and motherhood is more prestigious than any award or recognition work outside the home brings. However, feminists are calling for more women to work outside the home, even if it comes at the expense of children, who are being left to grow in the care of nannies, day care centres, domestic help, in-laws, and babysitters. For a woman today, her status and career comes first, family later. Women are makers of families, but feminists want to break families, which is why they spew venom at the very thought of a woman being in the comfort and security of her home, and they lead women to believe, through false theories and notions, that they will be happier working outside the home.

    3. swati

      Women are also human beings and they do have needs same as men. You want them to sit at home to take care of children but also want them to not spend their husband money for their care, you want them to treat as homemaker but not treat men as atm. Your house, your car, your money then what is hers. Why you stopping her to get her own house, her own car or to earn her own money. And yes women are human not machine. Nobody can do everything i.e work 14 hrs and then cook and clean and take care of children. Their are many women who give birth to 8 or 9 children. How can that be joy for mother.Many women die giving birth to children. If you want Sita first become Ram.

    4. B

      Cooking is an activity that most women enjoy doing, and are not oppressed because of it, as feminists would like everyone to believe. These days women have husbands hire domestic help who do most of the work in the house, and even cook. A number of times women refuse to cook and have husbands bring food from restaurants, incurring unnecessary expenditure in the process. According to feminists, asking a wife for a glass of water would constitute as domestic abuse. If women don’t want to do anything after marriage, why do they marry in the first place? In India, go to Cafe Coffee Day or Barista Lavazza, and more often than not, you will find a girl behind the counter, ready to make coffee for you. Women can work in coffee shops and serve all kinds of men (and women), women can work as waitresses and serve in restaurants, women can work as airhostesses and serve in planes, women can work in bars and serve everone, but the moment a woman serves her husband, feminists go berserk. Is it any surprise that since the feminist movement, with its claims of emancipation and liberation, divorce rates have shot through the roof. The feminist movement, while harming men, is not doing any good for women either.

      P.S. If you want Ram first become Sita.

    5. swati

      Women working on coffee houses get paid for those work while a housewife is ask to not use her husband as atm and also not allowed to work outside. And most important thing is we also want to make something of ourselves. There are many women who doesn’t dream of husband and children but dream of space and stars. But thanks to patriarchy women are not allowed to step outside their home. And I don’t know which feminist you are talking about, I only knows those feminist who help getting rape law, domestic abuse law, child abuse law, education for women, sanitation for women. Divorce rates are high because women don’t want to live in abusive relationship and that kind of environment is not suitable for children where husband is drunk and yell and beat and rape his wife. In India there are many girls who are sita but the problem is they are either illitrate, or in human trafficking or in prostitution or falls prey to ravan. Those who are cunning found themselves ram. and men are also so superficial that they also marry these plastic dolls.

    6. B

      I have been trying to reply to your comment since the last 2 days but YKA keeps deleting my comment.

      70% of divorces are initiated by women and the reason is boredom, not abuse.

      http://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/blog/2011/10/17/till-boredom-do-us-part-women-more-likely-to-divorce-over-boredom-than-adultery/

      http://eleanorewells.com/is-boredom-a-good-reason-for-divorce/

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/mother-tongue/8739533/Women-and-divorce-Goodbye-darling-youre-just-too-dull….html

      This the the liberation that feminists are selling women.

    7. swati

      I am talking about Indian women as you know I live in india. I don’t care what women in U.S, Europe or australia do. they have very different culture. All the links shows study in US europe r some other developed countries. and i am talking about indian women who are always taught that husband is their god and that they should live her father house in doli and husband house after death and many indian women still do this. Go and talk to your maid, she will tell you how her husband beat her and snatch her money. This is the case of many poor indian women. go in village, women don’t have proper sanitation and these things are not my imagination They actually happens. I myself belong to a small village in UP which is one of the worst state to be born a girl. If you are blind doesn’t mean that world is all sunshine.

  6. Daredevil

    Men constitute of the majority of suicides, majority of war deaths, majority of the homeless and unemployed, have less access to healthcare hence live ten years less than women on average, are subject to harsher punishments than women for the same crimes, also suffer from rape and DV but are not given support or protection under the law, are subject to mandatory conscription, biased family courts which throw unemployed men in jail for not paying alimony, are subject to mandatory arrest laws, are subject to no evidence laws, even when innocent and are now a minority in college education. Do women actually care about men as a gender? No. Yet there are hundreds of men out there fighting for “women’s rights” when men actually have less “rights” as such.

  7. Amlan

    Very well written Mam…Please dont give up to this patriarchy. Fight against it and put an end to it.

  8. Amlan

    “Men constitute of the majority of suicides”- Daredevil.

    Dear “Daredevil”,

    Let me tell u, more women attempt suicide then men, but with much lesser success. Check wiki for confirmation, please. So please you know what. leave it no point of arguing with ,……typical patriarchs, chauvanist, Boys… Bro please grow up, dont remain a ‘Boy’ for ever. Grow up and become a MARD (Men Against Rape and Discrimination).

  9. Amlan

    Dear Batman,

    Your, comments are hollow, backed by stereotyped chauvanist mindsets, Baseless and utter misogynist. Let me tell u, its actually the opposite.Companies with more women in leadership positions have been found to perform better on an average…

    But whatsoever, we cant give one sex higher preference then the other not even on the basis of some statistical findings, firstly because it evades the principle of “equality of status and of oppurtunity”, a basic universal human right, and also that exceptions are always there. So in that line of Argument, both Patriarchy and Matriarchy are always wrong as it evades the Fundamental Right to equality. So we feminist are exactly doing that, fighting for the basic human right to social, economic, and political equality. Its Simple as it is. But since historically and traditionaly patriarchal, so our focus mainly remains towards women. To end this sexist, biased and unjust system of Patriarchy, to bring women at par with men, to secure their fundamental right to equality and also to prevent the rise of a matriarchy or any such biased system are the prime goals of we the Feminist…So please ‘Boys’ grow up….And stop baselessly arguing and defending your previeledges and egos like kids, make way for our fight for ensuring a basic human right to every one. And please Grow up.

    And afterall why not, more gender equal countries have also been found to be overall low in corruption, violence, and high in economic stability, human development, peace and happiness index.

    Lastly no civilisation can be great, if it cant ensure the basic human rights to its people including the right to equality and justice…

    Here are few of my link for proof-

    More Women at the Top, Higher Returns: – The Washington Post24 Sep 2014 : OnLeadership… What it found:better performanceforcompaniesthat havewomenon the board (just …www.washingtonpost.com/news/on-lead…

    Study FindsCompanieswithMore FemaleLeaders Perform Better : 6 Aug 2014- A Conference Board and DDI study finds that the benefits of a diverse work force are far-reaching.www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/from-u..

    Study finds women are better bosses than men — here’s why3 Apr 2015 … And yet, Gallup found that only 33% of working Americans currently have afemale boss.www.businessinsider.com/why-women-a…

    Gender Equality Could Unlock Trillions Of Dollars OfEconomicGrowth
    Co.Exist-1 day ago.

    Shields: Gender equality benefitsmen, women both socially: 17 Mar 2014 …Gender equalitynot only gives women their inalienable rights, but itbenefitshumanity as a whole.dailyorange.com/2014/03/shields-gen…

  10. Amlan

    So ‘Boys’, please stop spreading ur ‘boyish’ chauvanism and misogyny online and please co operate.

  11. Amlan

    So ‘Boys’, please stop spreading ur ‘boyish’ chauvanism and misogyny online and please co operate. And as for the Family, here is a link to clear your doubts –

    Gender Equality Behind Global Pro-FamilyRevival :
    americamagazine.org/content/all-thi…

  12. Amlan

    So please get rid of your egos and try to understand…

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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