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VOL. XXII No. 1, APRIL 16-30, 2012
Why don't the women answer?
Vincent D’Souza

You call your local ward councillor on the phone. A male voice answers. The man refuses to hand over the phone to his wife, the councillor.

"You can talk to me, it's alright," he insists.

So why do parties choose to select the wives of local area politicians when it comes to giving tickets and respecting the reservation policy for women in our local bodies like our Corporation Council?

Is the situation so bad that these parties do not have women who have taken part in rallies and agitations or addressed local issues, women who could better qualify for this job?

I was looking for answers at a discussion held at the American Center recently. The United States celebrates Women's History Month each March and among the events was this discussion on 'Women and Politics'.

The panel included former State Minister of the DMK, Dr. Poongothai Aladi Aruna, Bader Sayeed, senior advocate and former AIADMK MLA, Lalitha Kumaramangalam, senior member of the BJP, and Dr. Wendy Singer, Fulbright Nehru senior researcher.

It was a refreshing experience because all the women were outspoken, warm and displayed character.

This was a 'limited' public event and hence the candid nature of their conversation – they could not have said many of the things they said in a public space, much less in their own political space.

The discussion touched on how being in political families helped an aspirant, how party cadres treated and respected women in their midst, what it took to be in, and survive, electoral politics, and how women leaders and colleagues treated each other.

For someone who has followed grassroot politics and electoral systems closely for many years now, much of what was said was not new.

But when I did ask the question about wives of local area politicians being chosen for tickets, there were a few unconvincing replies from the panel.

"Perhaps parties think wives of their local leaders are winnable."

"These women will also be party members, so there is no harm selecting them."

"It's a start, at least a woman has found a space, she will do better as she learns down the line."

Some women ward councillors have got down to business with experience. Some have turned corrupt. Others have remained mum or played puppets.

If the ward community can work alongside, if the women are given skills training, then our neighbourhoods would stand to gain. – (Courtesy: Mylapore Times)

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In this issue

Can't Mylapore Festival be more people friendly?
George Town needs a master plan
Why don't the women answer?
Tambrahms - A portrait of the median
Perambur Railway Hospital - With a focus on cardiac care
The great debate of the 1930s
The Baroda connection

Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Our Readers Write
Quizzin' with Ram'nan
Dates for your diary


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