Chennai: Though a lot has been spoken about giving 33 per cent reservation for women in legislative bodies, the two major political parties (AIADMK & DMK) seem to be in no mood to increase women’s representation in the Lok Sabha from Tamilnadu.
Contesting in 20 seats, DMK has given tickets to only two women – Kanimozhi and Thamizhachi Thangapandian – while the AIADMK has named just one – K Maragatham – in their list.
Kanimozhi is contesting from Thoothukudi, Thamizhachi Thangapandian from South Chennai and Maragatham from Kanchipuram.
Women activists from the State feel that it is not about any specific political party, but the entire electoral scenario is yet to evolve to make the environment conducive for women.
“All parties speak a lot about empowerment of women. But in reality, they give them very little representation,” says activist Beena Kirubakar.
“Take the case of Kanimozhi and Thamizhachi. They were given seats not because they represent womenfolk, but they are daughters of leaders of their party,” she says, and adds, “It is a pity that in a State that was ruled by Jayalalithaa, only three women candidates are fielded by the two major political parties.”
Beena states, “Women remain under-represented in decision-making bodies. The handful of those have occupied some of the highest seats of power mainly due to their family legacy.”
Interestingly, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee has walked the talk. For the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal, she came up with a candidates list that has 17 women contestants.
Mamata said, “Everyone is talking about 33 per cent reservation for women. We nominated 41 per cent women candidates,” she said. In 2014, her party fielded 35 per cent women candidates.
Political observer Krishnan feels that voters still equate leadership with masculinity and approach women candidates warily, giving them scant respect.
“In a country like India, we have had personalities like Indira Gandhi and J Jayalalithaa who were bold and dynamic. Today, there is Sonia Gandhi, Nirmala Sitharaman, Smriti Irani, Sushma Swaraj, Mamata and Mayawati making an impact. More women should come into public life and take up big posts to ensure equality,” he adds.