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 Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Housing and Urban Affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri, is a former top diplomat who retired as India's Permanent Representative at the United Nations. In his new political avatar, as an important minister in the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Puri told INDIA REVIEW & ANALYSIS that
 
read-more
Chief of General Staff, United Kingdom, Gen Sir Nicholas Carter’s, visit to India in mid-February was covered by Defence Ministry releasing five photographs and not a word on his engagements/itinerary, writes Anil Bhat
 
read-more
Campus placement season is here and the news is that graduates from the top campuses in India, especially the IITs, have received six figure pay packets and job offers in the US. However, looking beyond the top 200 engineering schools in India, pay packets are not looking too promising. The reason is the emergence of new engineering sc
 
read-more
The largest military exercises in Southeast Asia concluded on February 23 in Thailand, after 11 days of drills, social and humanitarian projects and traditional jungle training. A total of 11,075 soldiers from 29 countries participated in the Cobra Gold 2018 training, held in eastern Thailand, reports Efe news.
 
read-more
Maldives President Abdulla Yameen “conveyed that mediation was not wanted at this stage” when UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke to him last week, Guterres's spokesperson Stephane Dujrric confirmed Thursday, writes Arul Louis
 
read-more
Srinivasan leaves his office in Bengaluru where the lights and air-conditioners are switched off when sensors planted inside notice that he is leaving. He is prompted on his e-watch as to how much time it would take for the elevator to arrive on his floor, based on movement-recognition, writes Rajendra Shende
 
read-more

The Indian government is undertaking a project to enhance and install infrastructures related to trade and customs along its northeastern frontier, that include trading points with Bhutan.

 
read-more

Society for Policy Studies in association with India Habitat Centre held a lecture in the “China's Belt and Road Initiative: Nature, Implications and India's Response”

 
read-more
Column-image

What is history? How does a land become a homeland? How are cultural identities formed? The Making of Early Kashmir explores these questions in relation to the birth of Kashmir and the discursive and material practices that shaped it up to the ...

 
Column-image

A group of teenagers in a Karachi high school puts on a production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible— and one goes missing. The incident sets off ripples through their already fraught education in lust and witches, and over the years ...

 
Column-image

Title: Do We Not Bleed?: Reflections of a 21-st Century Pakistani; Author: Mehr Tarar; Publisher: Aleph Book Company; Pages: 240; Price: Rs 599

 
Column-image

From antiquity, the Muslim faith has been plagued by the portrayal of Muslim men regularly misusing this perceived “right” to divorce their wives instantly by simply uttering “talaq” thrice.

 
Column-image

'Another South Asia!' edited by Dev Nath Pathak makes a critical engagement with the questions about South Asia: What is South Asia? How can one pin down the idea of regionalism in South Asia wherein inter-state relations are often char...