The gender gap in male and female voter turnouts in India is slowly bridging. Women today are well-informed and have an independent choice which may or may not be the same as the men in the families. They vote on very different issues as compared to men. They are most likely to focus on issues that affect them and their families’ quality of life. Most importantly, India must move from women’s development to women-led development.
As women come out in greater numbers, they will seek more accountability and are more likely to vote for development than caste and identity. If all these reasons aren’t enough as to why women must vote, they should be reminded that they constitute half of our population and are perfectly capable of making or breaking the country by their silence and voice alike.
However, during the 2019 General elections, being close to the field, I learnt about a mortifying trend that I knew nothing about. Most young girls in Haryana especially in rural areas do not have a voting card. The logic given by their parents or family is that it is wise for them to get one made after the marriage. This is done for two reasons; first, the inconvenience and headache of changing the girl’s surname on her voting card after marriage can be avoided. Secondly, she shall prove to be more of an asset as a voting bank of her husband’s village. Which brought me to another realisation.
Moreover, a wife or a daughter-in-law in villages is also a political asset to rural families given an increased representation in Sarpanch seats. Obviously, it is a far-fetched thought that these women should have any autonomy on decision-making, public-dealing or if they do get elected as Sarpanches.
“Sarpanch Pati“ is an embarrassing reality and a slap to progressive dialogue on women’s representation and participation in political leadership. The husband of the elected woman would in a matter-of-factly assume the leadership role, attend meetings or training on his wife’s behalf and even chair the Panchayat meetings or other responsibilities. Both the mobility and decision-making of these women – pre and post marriage remain heavily censored.
The world depends on women for existence with their power to create, nurture and transform and the youth (special emphasis on girls) are the forerunners of hope and a better tomorrow. Yet both remain underrepresented and understated in the “makings” of the world.
समाज का 50% हिस्सा होने के नाते यह ज़रूरी है कि हम महिलाएं समाज में अपना महत्व समझें ! सिर्फ दर्शक बने रहने और शिकायत करने के बजाए लोकतंत्र की सफलता के लिए भाग लें। मतदान एक अधिकार और विशेषाधिकार है जिसे पाने के लिए कई लड़ाई लड़ी गयी है। चुनाव और सरकार लोगों की, लोगों द्वारा और लोगों के लिए होते हैं ।ज़रूरी है कि हम यह समझें और सभी महिलाएं वोट करने के लिए आगे आएं । (Comprising = 50% of the society, it is important that we women understand our importance in society! Participate for the success of democracy rather than just remaining spectators and complain. Voting is a right and privilege that many battles have been fought for. Elections and government are for the people, by the people and for the people. It is important that we understand this and all women come forward to vote.)