Written by Bhavya Bhardwaj
When the society determined her position, they relegated her status to the four walls of household, when they measured her capabilities, they believed it to be of less relevance than the men in the society, but she proved her worth irrespective of all odds, in the form of Indira, Sarojini, Kamla and Mamata she established her mettle in this patriarchal world.
The issue of women representation in Indian politics has always been a critical question. It is undeniably a difficult task to make a lasting mark in the field of politics, but it is even more true for women. In a male-dominated society the participation of women in politics has not only been discouraged but the women who showed the courage to step into this space had to fight many prejudices and preconceptions.
Some of the prominent factors that limit women’s participation in politics are the following. First, the deeply ingrained patriarchal mindset of the society. As per the traditional and widely-established norms, the primary position of women was seen as limited to the household and it was believed that the ‘public and political sphere’ are better handled by the men. This thinking has made it difficult for women to step out and take on challenging roles as their career options. Even more, women who dared to take the plunge confronted and battled many derogatory and partisan remarks. Where Indira Gandhi was called ‘Gungi Gudiya’ by the men in her party once, similarly leaders like Mayawati and Jayalalitha also had to bear personal remarks and character assassination to reach a commanding position in their respective parties.
Secondly, politics as a career choice becomes even more difficult for women due to the ‘violent and unsafe’ nature of the domain. Intimidation, getting work done through undue pressure has been a reality of ground politics due to which this arena has been considered inappropriate for women. The brutal killing of Santosh Koli, a prominent women leader who was working to establish AAP as a better alternative in 2013, is a case in point.
Lastly, political parties also don’t actively promote the candidature of women as their winnability factor remains a question on account of the inherent biases in the society.
No doubt, things have improved for the better in the past few decades, but the cost for a woman to imagine a career in politics and reach a top position is still very high. As a society, it is our collective responsibility that we are able to create a space where women are free to express themselves and choose a career without any fear.