Women Reservation

Oct 27, 2023

Top political families to bring more family members to fill the quota

We must change our social mindset and shed our male superiority social sentiment to fix gender inequality. The reservation measures may not settle the wider issues of women since such measures may lead only to accommodate politicians’ wives and daughters. Local satraps can make it a vehicle to consolidate their family position with more family recruitments.

Reservation means protection for the unprotected. In a democracy, the law of the land protects everyone without discrimination of caste, creed, colour, language, or gender. Yet, we opted for a reservation to repair social imbalance. There is no account of how many times we have assessed the outcome of the reservation and convinced ourselves about the prudence of the act of reservation. Reservation is only blatant politics. Women do not need a reservation if their gender counterpart treats them as equals. They should not be at the mercy of men for enjoying their natural rights as equal human beings. That calls for a change in the male mindset. Reservation is an unlikely option to the change in the male mindset.

The reservation for women in elections is supposed to be a means to create a level playing field, fix the underrepresentation and end the marginalisation. The goal is to achieve gender equality in politics, where the presence of women is narrow as we see in the executive workplace. Our law is very clear about gender equality. A question of comparable opportunities and recognition for women remains only when our society closes all the doors against women. We can bring them to the mainstream on par with their male counterparts without special measures like reservations if we shape our mindset to accept them as equals. It is about creating a society where women’s voices and perspectives are valued and included in decision-making processes.

Without a change in our mindset, the entire concept of reservation for women in elections is certainly intriguing. It does not seem to be of significant interest to political parties other than a step of populism. While they may discuss it with enthusiasm the fear of losing their power prevents the rulers from implementing it often. Local satraps can make it a vehicle to consolidate their family position. Currently, their confidence lies in the belief that if they do not secure a seat to contest, they can pass it on to a family member. However, this is a precarious game, as there is no guarantee that suitable candidates will always be available within their families or will always be obedient. Politicians do not take risks but want to create an image of concern and care for women. In most cases, these efforts only reach the elite class, while poor women remain marginalised.

When politicians approach voters, they often highlight their attempts to secure reservations for specific groups, believing that this will guarantee their support in elections. The Indian system does not genuinely address this issue and instead resorts to political gimmicks.

In a society where girl children are considered liabilities, girls continue to face discrimination. This is a nasty social malice. There begins a gender suppression. Even today, women are supposed to listen to their spouses or parents in all decision-making in their lives. They listen to their parents, brothers, or spouses even in exercising their voting rights. This applies to a significant percentage of financially dependent women. They have no world outside the confinement of their parents because of many social taboos. We have to dismantle this taboo as a first step to end gender discrimination if we mean so.

While a certain percentage of financially independent women in urban areas may have more opportunities, the majority still lack freedom. Our society curtails their roles into homemakers, child-raisers, field workers, and at best middle-level office workers. It is more important to address discrimination than resorting to reservation as a measure to fix the discrimination and treat women better.

We often celebrate the success stories of a few women who have gained more opportunities in urban areas. Even if they secure seats in the reserved category, opportunities are limited. For the Lok Sabha, only around 150 women, probably relatives of influential politicians and local satraps, will have the opportunity. What about millions of other women? Only time will tell us how well this decision can benefit them. The allocation of seats becomes a matter of the leaders’ favouritism and loyalty towards those who helped secure the seat. That may open space for exploitation. Therefore, unlike celebrating celebrities, real changes are unlikely to occur. Instead, political parties may further divide and discriminate among people by creating divisions within reserved categories.