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A gathering of women

IFP Editorial: Is reservation for women in political spaces really helping the cause of women empowerment or is it becoming a projection of the notion of a space allowed by men for women to operate on their whims, naturally comes up?

ByIFP Bureau

Updated 27 Jul 2022, 4:15 am

(PHOTO: IFP)
(PHOTO: IFP)

On Monday, women leaders across the political spectrum gathered at Manipur Press Club to deliberate on the long pending Women's Reservation Bill.

The gathering held under the initiative of leftist organisation All Manipur Nupi Marup included among others women leaders from Congress and BJP also, besides Up-Adhyaksha of Imphal East Ksh Tama, president of AMNM M Sakhi Devi, secretary of Manipur Keithel Nupi Marup L Mema Devi, president of BJP Manipur Mahila Morcha L Loteeka and Vice-president of MPCC L Tilotama.

The women's convention on Monday unanimously resolved to unite all political parties in Manipur and launch an agitation to ensure that the Women's Reservation Bill is passed in the monsoon session of Parliament.

ALSO READ: Women's Reservation Bill: Convention decides to launch agitation

The WRB is a bill which proposes to amend the India Constitution to reserve one-third (33 per cent) of all seats in the Lok Sabha for women. The bill was first introduced in the Parliament on September 12, 1996. The bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha in 2010 during the UPA regime, however it is yet to be passed in the Lok Sabha.

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The National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) is also planning a mass protest at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi from August 1 to 9 in demand for the passing of the WRB. Manipur would be sending 42 representatives to participate in the mass protest.

With 33 per cent seats reserved for women in the local bodies based on the objective of reducing the gender gap in decision making process we have been seeing a number of women pradhans, Zilla Parishad or panchayat members and even Adyakshas or Up-Adyakshas in the rural bodies and women representatives in the urban local bodies.

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However in reality, it is mostly the spouses of the women representatives who are really controlling or making decisions behind the screen while they actually remain figureheads. And the question whether reservation for women in political spaces is really helping the cause of women empowerment or is it becoming a projection of the notion of a space allowed by men for women to operate on their whims, naturally comes up.

So, there is the question of whether the women candidates are actually contesting elections in the local bodies in their own right or as mere proxies of their spouses whenever the seats become reserved for women in the lotteries? In most cases, the latter seems to be the reality where the women proxies either retain the hold till it becomes unreserved or warm up the seats for their spouses. And, we are sure this is certainly not helping the cause of women empowerment in politics.

In the recent state assembly elections, five women candidates were elected and they are S Kebi Devi of BJP from Naoriya Pakhanglakpa, Irengbam Nalini Devi of NPP from Oinam, Nemcha Kipgen of BJP from Kangpokpi, SS Olish of BJP from Chandel and Kimneo Hangshing of Kuki Peoples Alliance from Saikul. In Manipur, we have had women MLAs in the past like Hangmila Shaiza, Wahengbam Leima Devi, Oinam Mema Devi and Okram Landhoni Devi besides AK Mirabai of Congress and Nemcha Kipgen of BJP who are currently the MLAs of Patsoi and Kangpokpi.

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Well, Hangmila is the wife of former CM Yangmaso Shaiza, W Leima the wife of former Congress MP W Angou, O Mema the wife of former minister Oinam Bira and O Landhoni the wife of the present opposition leader O Ibobi Singh.

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While the previous four had won the assembly seats on the goodwill nurtured or left by their spouses, the latter two Ak Mirabai and Nemcha Kipgen won on their own merit or ‘clout’ whatever that is. Point is, women coming into politics on their own or strength or independent political career is still rare in our state.

It is the first time in our political history that a woman is heading the state unit of a major political party in the person of A Sharda Devi and she certainly has an agenda for encouraging more women into politics. Well, it is good and encouraging.

EDITORIAL

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First published:27 Jul 2022, 4:15 am

Tags:

All Manipur Nupi MarupreservationWRBWomen's Reservation Bill

IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur

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