Q - Why did you feel the need to organise this workshop?
With 50 % reservation, women can almost control the house. But they need to understand how the corporation functions, the rules and regulations. They should be trained in how to identify issues in ward and then raise them in the house. All this requires some handholding and we thought we should provide it to women aspirants across all political parties. This workshop also allowed them to interact with former mayors and officials and learn from their experiences.
Q - What are the main concerns among women politicians today?
I find that women lack interest in the political and social process and how different issues affect the people. They do not actively get involved in the party’s stand and merely function in the reserved seat as the relative of a male politician. They do not comprehend wider issues such as land acquisition, which needs to change. Few expect them to work independently. Rotating of reservation seats may hamper nurturing of a constituency but I believe if a woman is truly interested, she can start from scratch and still make a difference.
Q - How did you work as a corporator when there were hardly any women politicians?
I started work when Goregaon was a gram panchayat. When I became corporator, we were only three socialist leaders and not more than eight to 10 women in the house. But we raised issues such as use of the Marathi language and provision of common taps, which could not be wished away by any political party. Eventually everyone used to listen to what I was saying carefully.
Q - How do the women corporators fare on the whole?
Women have a better understanding of education, health and provision of essential services because they struggle for it. She understands how it affects people because she herself deals with it at personal level. A woman corporator will definitely talk about problems such as lack of schooling or shortage of water supply. Women must always bear in mind why they have been elected and be well informed and sincere, then they will perform well.