This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Nachi. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

A Closer Look At The Arguments For And Against Free Rides For Women In Delhi

More from Nachi

There is no doubt that Arvind Kejriwal’s announcement of free metro, bus rides for women in Delhi is a political move—more than AAP’s concern over the safety of women in the capital. Delhi assembly elections are less than a year away. Kejriwal continues his war cry against the centre to get full statehood for Delhi. And after the general election results, this seems to be a well planned maneuver, politically speaking, by the top brass of AAP— because Delhi Metro is run jointly by the Delhi government and the centre. And the decision will lead to more scuffles between them, creating a necessary narrative in which Modi can be demonized again.

Anyway, appeasing 50% of the population is always a better political move than going on dharnas against a centre which is bent on destroying you.

It has already created a buzz, and we have to accept that this buzz is more productive than the buzz created by the Balakot Strikes. Delhi is referred to as the rape capital of the world, and women here pay the brunt of being them every day. They are the marginalized section of the society. In other words, they need help. They need all the help that can be given.

Arguments In Favor:

There are many arguments that are made in favor of the said decision. Some of them can be outlined as follows:

1.Women’s safety:

Rather than traveling in buses, women will be able to ride in Metros which are—statistically speaking—a much safer option. Also, increased number of women in the coaches of Metro will make sure that miscreants (who love “accidentally” grazing against the bodies of women in stuffed coaches) will not be able to harass them.  This is the primary argument given by Kejriwal in his public statement.

2. More participation in public life:

If women have free access to traveling—their participation in the public life will increase. An implied assertion behind this argument is that women are unable to go out because they (or their male companions) do not have money to travel, and hence, they are always shut up in their houses. Even though it is not wholly true in all cases (many men do not allow their women to go out because their beliefs do not let them), making public transport free will definitely lead to increased participation of women in public life—thereby making them politically conscious and more aware of the world around them.

Honestly speaking, I am not sure where I stand in terms of “my opinion” in case of this decision. Perhaps that is why I have pointed out the advantages first. And the reason I am delineating the arguments against this decision is not known even to me. We can never be sure of our ideas anyway, and whenever we write on a public forum, we need to be comprehensive. We need to take all the points into account.

Arguments Against:

Let me put forward my mild rejoinders against the three primary points, and one more point, which is a matter of praxis:

1. “Women’s safety” argument:

Women’s safety for me is more a matter of inner thought rather than outside policy changes. Policies help, but they should be directed more in the direction of polishing the thoughts of those who harass women. In other words, it is more a matter of what we think than what we do. Because what we think comes before and leads to what we do. For example, I cannot ask my sister/daughter to wear clothes to cover-up their bodies—just because women are unsafe on the streets (“Clothes are not protective shields against rape” is a well known phrase doing rounds everywhere). In the same way, I should not make them travel in safer environs like metro. The streets should be made safer rather than creating specialized spaces for women. Every space should be a safe space.

Making women travel in metro because it a “safe space” and asking them to cover their heads is equivalent to each other, in terms of underlying episteme (thought structure). Both are evasive actions; they do not solve the problem.

Also, if women have to be always together to be safe, what kind of “safety” is that?

2.”More participation in public life” argument:

I cannot argue against this point. Women’s footfall will increase in public life if they are given a free mode of transportation. And we need that to be the case.

When women interact with other women, and that too from different locations and mindsets, there is bound to be an ideological shift—a shift that is bound to help them in the long run. And wherever I see/go, when it comes to women empowerment, I find only the privileged women/girls talking to each other and making strong claims on social media. Of course this is necessary and helpful, the privileged women do need to have dialogues, but in my humble opinion, they do not really constitute the majority of population. And they are already empowered enough to really understand what “having no power” means.

We need dialogue between the privileged and unprivileged. We need dialogue between the unprivileged and the unprivileged now. And when they come out in public (if not plush coffee-houses, then let it be the Metro), they will interact with each other—they will talk about how their husbands beat them in private and how they really feel about their lives. They will understand their socio-political situation. They will unearth how they are disempowered. This is the kind of dialogue I wish to look for.

3.Point of implementation:

For obvious reasons. This is going to be the second biggest hurdle. After the tussle with the centre.

Conclusion (Sort Of):

There is no conclusion. Or if there is one, it has already been provided in the article. But there is one point I wish to extrapolate upon—so that it does not pass by without making any effect.

In the beginning of the essay, I stated the following:

“They are the marginalized section of the society. In other words, they need help. They need all the help they can be given.”

There was a not-so-hidden pathos in those words, a kind of contradiction. I am actually not very sure if calling women “marginalized” is ethically justified. Because when I do that, I assert my own identity as a male. I call myself a parent to them, a kind of father figure. Also, there is an implied/inherent distance in calling women “they”. The whole statement: “They need all the help that can be given” is derogatory at best. Even if the woman is raped and mutilated at the hands of Patriarchy, I am no one to say that they need my help. I wish to see a change in the discourse. In the way things are seen/talked about. Our language hides our hidden prejudices. And calling yourself a savior is one of the crudest prejudices one can have. Perhaps I shall write more, in another article, about this prejudice.

A note added after the comment of a friend:

One of my friends Shraddha Tewari, after going through this article, said the following:

One of the reasons I favor the decision is… “Women carrying Gucci need to learn to share spaces with women whom they consider “below” themselves (domestic helps, workers etc. etc.).

I’ve traveled via metro and I’ve seen the kind of public that majorly uses it. There are many people in there who become uneasy when someone below their class enters the ladies compartment.

So, that interaction between women from different walks of life is necessary.

Yeah. So if free rides bridge this gap even a bit, I support that.”

This point made my opinion inclined towards “in favor” of the decision.

You must be to comment.
  1. Sujith Babu

    Where is gender equality?

More from Nachi

Similar Posts

By HARISH KUMAR

By kriti jain

By Deepshikha Pandey

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Read more about his campaign.

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.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

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.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

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.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below