FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
Women in politics: The way forward
Posted:Apr 18, 2017
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
Malhari Devi Paswan, 60, looks anxiously at the crowd. She takes a deep breath, and closes her eyes to recollect herself.
 
The audience greets her with thunderous claps, she acknowledges their greeting, and starts her speech on the need for an Open Defecation Free Zone. She confidently puts forward evidences, and weaves logic in perfect articulation. “If you have a toilet in your house, it will not only ensure a healthy and happy family, but will also fetch you public trust, confidence, and social prestige.”
 
The public confidence towards Paswan is unprecedented, and there’s no denial of her stature as a leader in Siraha – the eastern region of Nepal where women’s leadership is often questioned, and challenged. “There’s a problem for women being taken seriously as leaders in my community.
 
I need to change that!” explains, Paswan. There was a point when she gave up active politics because of political mudslinging, and limited role for women in her party. But the realization that women can never be leaders if they bow down to preeminence of socially constructed behaviors.
 
A recent study conducted by Search for Common Ground (Search) provides evidences that women leadership in Terai is still considered a ‘western manifesto’, and the society still views politics from a masculine lens.
 
The series of interviews being conducted echoes the fact that people still believe that “Politics is a man’s world,” and stereotypes such as: women are weak and emotional, they cannot take rational decisions, and they are best suited for cultural roles denies women leaders the chance to prove their competence.
 
A Key Informant Interview (KII) chapter reveals that, ‘women who are active in politics are considered ‘bad women’, and their character is always questioned.’ On the other hand, outspoken and critical women are considered bad influence to the society, but the treatment varies for outspoken and critical men – as these attributes are considered manly, and essentials for leadership.
 
Mobility of women in these regions also poses a challenge, as suggested in an interview, “we need to travel to places to attend meetings, take part in discussions and dialogues, and collaborate with our male counter-parts.
 
This is a taboo. Women who speak to men who are not related to them, and travel a lot are considered lewd.” These statements echo that the society is still reluctant to accept women leadership that harps about textbook equality and empowerment.
 
Well known Women Rights Activist, Mona Sherpa believes that many women leaders still crumble in the influence of the patriarchal leadership, and many lose their individual leadership style. Sherpa, explains: “To be a leader means not to be driven by societal and patriarchal dictations.
 
Leadership should have a profound vision and defined politics – and women leaders should be the flag bearers of equality, and realize their own politics which is crafted with a vision to serve the society, break stereotypes, and always represent the systematically discarded.
 
This is what leaders should do.” It is not an easy task to defy the glass ceiling, but if these ceilings bound, control, and makes one powerless – there’s a greater need to shun it. “Those who defy that ‘glass ceiling’ in politics have to face manifold social scrutiny.
 
But there’s a huge alliance of vocal women leaders who work collaboratively, and are creating positive ripples without fearing the scrutiny. Therefore, one should not fear branding of women in politics.”
 
Critical thinkers also feel that there’s a need to celebrate women role models in politics, and the media should focus on women leaders as well. Leaders such as, Malhari Paswan, Krishni Tharu, Uma Badi, Najbool, Sukhdaiya, Kalawati Paswan, and many others are role models for women leaders, and they have taken that meaningful step to challenge the patriarchal mind-set.
 
‘Nepotism’ is also one the reason for lack luster attitude of women towards joining politics. Many strongly believe, that women in the forefront representing them, and their issues are ‘tokens’ and a result of nepotism – that endorses camp culture, and appointment of leaders who are not competent.
 
A quick review of women leaders proves that most of the women leaders are someone’s wives and daughters. But then, what about the women leaders who are not related to political lineage and camps?
 
Development practitioners suggest that these discussions related to women’s leadership should not be conducted in a silo effect, and the media should report on women leaders to make their mandate and contribution visible. There’s also a need for Leader to Leader mentoring and sharing platforms to discuss challenges, strategies, and way forward.
 
Understanding this gap in terms of skills and knowledge of collaborative leadership, Search trained 24 women leaders of Siraha under project, ‘Netritwa’.
 
The women leaders were provided with skills on collaborative leadership, gender-sensitivity classes, public speaking skills, and were involved in discussions related to collaborating with male counterparts to herald desired change in the society. “Women leaders should not be shy to accept their weakness, and should have the confidence to work on improving their leadership skills.
 
If people are not listening to you, then make sure to revisit and generate support from like-minded people,” explained, Paswan.
 

The Himalayan Times, April 19, 2017

 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
spotlight image Since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina assumed office again in Bangladesh in 2009, bilateral relations between New Delhi and Dhaka have been on a steady upward trajectory.
 
read-more
  Nearly 58 per cent of the about 600,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are children who suffer from severe malnutrition, a UN report released said.
 
read-more
A unique and passionate gathering of acrophiles, or mountain lovers, took place in neat and picturesque Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram state in north-eastern India in September.
 
read-more
India’s foreign policy under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has attained a level of maturity which allows it to assert itself in an effective manner. This is aimed at protecting the country’s national interests in a sustained way.
 
read-more
With over 100 incidents of braid chopping reported in different parts of Kashmir, there is widespread fear and anger among the people.
 
read-more
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China's GDP expanded 6.9 percent year on year in the first three quarters of 2017, an increase of 0.2 percent above that of the corresponding period of last year.
 
read-more
As political roller coasters go, there is none as steep and unpredictable as the one shared by the United States and Iran.
 
read-more
In West Asia, the end of one war paves the way for the next. Raqqa, the Syrian capital of the self-styled Islamic State (IS), has fallen to a coalition of rebels, the Syrian Democratic Forces that is backed by the United States.
 
read-more
On “Defining Our Relationship with India for the Next Century”
 
read-more
Column-image

Title: The People Next Door -The Curious History of India-Pakistan Relations; Author: T.C.A. Raghavan; Publisher: HarperCollins ; Pages: 361; Price: Rs 699

 
Column-image

Could the North Korean nuclear issue which is giving the world an anxious time due to presence of hotheads on each side, the invasion of Iraq and its toxic fallout, and above all, the arms race in the teeming but impoverished South Asian subcon...

 
Column-image

Title: A Bonsai Tree; Author: Narendra Luther; Publisher: Niyogi Books; Pages: 227 Many books have been written on India's partition but here is a firsthand account of the horror by a migrant from what is now Pakistan, who ...

 
Column-image

As talk of war and violence -- all that Mahatma Gandhi stood against -- gains prominence across the world, a Gandhian scholar has urged that the teachings of the apostle of non-violence be taken to the classroom.

 
Column-image

Interview with Hudson Institute’s Aparna Pande, whose book From Chanakya to Modi: Evolution of India’s Foreign Policy, was released on June 17.

 
Subscribe to our newsletter
Archive