The nation is all set for yet another general election for the 17th Lok Sabha. This is going to be the most consequential election in the history of independent India. We, the women of India, consider it a crucial battle – the aftermath of which will affect the country for the next five years. The increasing rates of sexual violence, honour crimes, atrocities against Dalit, Adivasi and minority women, rising unemployment, hunger and relentless price rise are showing very little signs of reducing.
I hereby wish to draw attention to the issues that have affected women in recent times. The concerns highlighted above need to become a part of the mainstream political agenda in the forthcoming elections and in future government policies to ensure equality and dignity for the women of this country.
Women from Dalit and Adivasi communities face structural violence and rape from those who wield enormous social and economic power, the injustice of which is of course self-evident. Crimes in the name of honour continue and the government fails to take action against it.
The Congress party’s manifesto states that in the first session of the 17th Lok Sabha, it will pass the Women’s Reservation Bill, reserving 33% of seats for women in the Parliament and state assemblies. One wonders what will actually transpire if indeed the party comes to power?
Despite a mandatory constitutional law of right to property, women still do not have the right on the same terms as men do. It varies according to personal and community laws that are patriarchal in nature and deny women equal right to inherited and matrimonial property as men.
India ranks 149 out of 190 nations in terms of the percentage of women representatives in the lower house of world parliaments, according to Inter-Parliamentary Union which is not very appreciating. At present, there are 66 women MPs in the Lok Sabha, occupying 12.6% of its 524 seats, compared to a world average of 24.3% on January 1, 2019. Does it matter? Well it does, because a greater representation of women would balance the process and prioritisation of issues that elected bodies should focus on.
This can be easily done by increasing the quotas for women in the Parliament and by creating awareness to encourage women to join politics.
India has had a long-serving woman Prime Minister and several women Chief Ministers along with speakers of the House. Yet its record of women parliamentarians is not good enough.
The national capital has been abuzz with the news of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra announcing her formal entry into politics, and she is really performing well. Her entry is being projected as a game changer in the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha elections. With this move she joins the select list of women politicians in India who have been known for their mass appeal and bold decisions.
The select list also includes some prominent women leaders like Sushma Swaraj, Nirmala Sitharaman, Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee, Smriti Irani, and many more. These women have achieved a milestone in Indian politics.
Women representatives, I believe, can bring economic growth to their constituencies which is evident in a study by the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research.
I personally think if more number of women representatives are elected in the upcoming election, it can be a great solution to the problems faced by the women of the country.