Mizoram election 2018: Women’s big fight for political space
In Mizoram’s capital, women are everywhere.
They are driving cars and scooters, running small roadside shops and big businesses, managing the show in hotels and restaurants, playing important roles in government and private offices, combining their careers with their traditional role of a homemaker.But if there’s one area where their presence is negligible, it’s in the state’s biggest decision making body, the legislative assembly.
Among the 40 elected legislators who take crucial decisions on shaping the state’s future, only one is a woman.
As Mizoram goes to polls one more time on November 28, the scenario isn’t likely to change much. The ruling Congress has given an election ticket to just one woman, Vanlalawmpuii Chawngthu, the lone woman in the assembly who is also a minister. Mizo National Front (MNF), the state’s main regional party, with which the Congress is locked in a direct fight for power, hasn’t included any woman in its list of candidates. Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM), a new regional outfit, has two women in its list. The only exception is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has fielded six women candidates. But since the party isn’t a major player in the Christian-majority state, it remains to be seen how many of them are able to emerge winners. “Mizos are a male-dominated society and women aren’t usually part of the decision making process. But I never felt any less than a man, and hence I decided to enter politics,” said prominent businesswoman Judy Zohmingliani, who joined BJP last year, and is the party’s candidate for the Tuivawl seat.
This is Zohminglianni’s second shot at politics. The 62-year-old was an active member of Congress nearly three decades ago, but left the party and politics and focused on business, because she felt women in Mizoram don’t have much of a chance in rising up the political ladder.
Mizoram was declared a state in 1972. But in its 46-year history, only four women have won election the assembly. That’s the worst record for a state in the country after Nagaland, another state in the northeast, which has failed to elect a woman MLA till date. “Women are active in every sphere in Mizoram, but their primary role is still seen as that of homemakers.
Politics is not seen as a clean career option,” said Lalrintluangi, a 62-year-old retired government official, contesting from Dampa on a ZPM ticket.
The state’s largest women’s organisation, Mizo Hmeichhe Insuihkhawn Pawl (Mizo Women Welfare Federation), which has branches all over the state and has over 285,000 members, is trying to change that. “We want more women in politics and decision-making bodies. That’s why we have urged our members to vote for women candidates, irrespective of their party affiliations,” said MHIP’s general secretary T Lalthangpuii.