Women had always played an important and decisive role in politics but despite that, they have always been marginalised and underrepresented as voters.
Conventional politics reflects the concerns of men undermining the role played by women and hence, reducing their representation and marginalising them.
These aspects further intensify the gender disparity, enduring problems like gender stratification and giving way to patriarchy. Structural barriers through discriminatory institutions limit women’s participation.
And when a university as an institution becomes discriminatory, it reduces the potential of women from accessing equal opportunities and resources which are needed to become effective leaders.
Recently, when the Aligarh Muslim University announced the date for its upcoming election for the students’ body, the whole campus got engulfed in the humdrum, leaving out the women’s college from its political fervour.
Even though the university allows the women’s college to conduct its separate elections, this autonomy is itself not empowering as it reduces the power and status of women to the position of a minority with not much representation. Instead of acting as a machinery for propagating the democratic principles in the campus, the university limits the participation of women by isolating it from the issues of the main campus. Universities are considered as the training ground but when they practice prejudice towards a particular section of the society they intensify the inequality that is already persistent.
This further lowers the level of politics in women’s colleges. Women students, instead of contesting the elections on the grounds of ideology take solace by either becoming apolitical or by contesting elections on minor issues.
The absence of ideology is because of a lack of opinion and lack of opinion is there because of a one-way process of giving lectures. There’s no such space for dialogue, the absence of which leads to lack of sensitivity amongst the women students towards their basic rights which further refrains them from active politics. Also, the paucity of activism is responsible for the suppression of the already suppressed and exploitation of the already oppressed.
All of this is aggravated by the administration which acts as the guardian and custodian of the rights of these women. The women students have to fight each day the hierarchical structure of feudal and authoritative administration which is misogynistic and patriarchal in nature and the ones who dare to raise their voice, feel threatened and fear the circumstance of being scrutinised by the reactionary administration. Others choose to remain silent deliberately under the pressure of culture and family, which is again patriarchal in structure.
Encroaching on such spaces and curbing equal representation in institutions like universities not only deteriorate the capacity of an individual but also harm the society and nation at large.
Emancipation of women is needed for creating agents of change which can benefit the society and lead towards an egalitarian and developed nation.