Parties still shy of big ‘ticket’ change for women in Bihar
As Bihar’s chief minister for 15 years, Nitish Kumar has indeed taken a slew of initiatives for women, but their political empowerment, particularly in the context of assembly elections, remains a concern even today.
Initiatives like cycle scheme for girls, 50% reservation to women in panchayats, primary agriculture credit societies, cooperative societies and school teachers’ recruitment, or even total prohibition in Bihar have found favour with women, which manifested itself in their turnout during 2019 Lok Sabha election, which was 60% compared to 55% male voters.
But their representation in the state assembly remains low.
The present assembly has just 28 women, which comes to mere 11% of the House strength of 243.
The high point was the 2010 assembly polls, when 34 women (14%) made it to the Assembly, the highest representation in the last six decades.
The year 2010 also witnessed the highest number of women in the election fray at 307, which dropped to 272 five years later.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections also, only three women could win from Bihar. The 17th Lok Sabha got 78 woman MPs, an increase of 16 from the 16th but it was still just 14.31%.
With another Assembly elections round the corner, the issue of woman representation has again started drawing attention, as it depends on how many tickets mainstream political parties actually give to women. Most political parties shy away from giving tickets to women citing the winnability factor in the male-dominated electoral politics.
Shakti, along with 120 grassroots organisations, has very timely appealed to all political parties in Bihar, national and smaller parties, urging them to field 50% female candidates.
Tara Krishnswamy, co-founder of Shakti, said, “The last 68 years of elections in Bihar show that men have 90% reservations in the Assembly, which implies that voters have no choice. Shockingly, if we add up all the women who have ever been MLAs in Bihar, it adds up to only 277! Just a little more than the size of the Assembly.”
“How can Bihar become a glorious state by leaving 50% of the talent untapped for state governance? We are putting public pressure on the parties to be fair, and field 50% women candidates. It is the only democratic thing to do,” she says.
Dr Maya Shankar Prasad, historian and retired professor, department of history, Patna University, says, “21st century should be a gender equality century, especially when it comes to representation in the Parliament and state assemblies. It would be a good gesture on the part of our leaders to offer them at least 33% to start with.”
Earlier this month, an endeavour to groom woman leaders by a social organization ‘Netri Foundation’ and involving experts from World Bank, UN Women, Indian School of democracy and other organisations also got underway with the support from all the mainstream political parties to prepare woman leaders for 2020 polls.
“We have trained over 250 women in UP and MP for panchayat politicians, but this is the first time we doing it for assembly elections. The objective is to let women themselves champion the cause of gender in politics, which remains largely neglected. The response has been very good,” said Netri founder Kanchi Agarwal, adding the programme ends on October 3.
Congress MLA Amita Bhushan too pitched for at least 33% reservation for women in the legislature. “Rest they can do themselves, as they have amply proved with whatever opportunities have come their way. It is high time all the political parties came forward to give women the representation they deserve and stop rhetoric. Women today are ready to take the mantle, but they are being denied their rights,” she says.
RJD MLA EjyaYadav said it was for the woman to take the initiative to make a place for themselves the male-dominated field. “They need to have the leadership quality and family support, as politics requires a lot of sacrifice. Things are gradually changing, but it will take time, as nothing comes easy,” she says.
Enter your email to get our daily newsletter in your inbox
- A directive by the Bihar police said it was imperative that appropriate action should be taken against persons putting social media posts having offensive or abusive tenor.
- The sand mafia in Bihar was highly frustrated after the state government’s recent ban on transportation of sand and stone chips, by trucks with 14 or more wheels, to prevent overloading.
- Last year, farmers of the Seemanchal region were compelled to sell maize at throw away prices against the MSP of ₹1850 per quintal.
- BSEB exams 2021: Bihar students alleged the state education board for playing with their future just for sticking to its exam calendar. Students also cried that unlike other education boards, BSEB has not reduced syllabus which has added to their woes.
- Bihar would be deprived of 150 MW power if the NTPC were to shut down its BTPS plant.
- The current situation only complicates the existing challenges for the commission that is already grappling with cases pending for the last several months
- The DGP said the police had got some important clues after interrogating several persons and is expecting to work the case out, soon. The DGP also said that contract killers were employed to kill Rupesh Kumar.
- The use of EVMs in rural polls in Bihar is going to take place for the first time but many other states, namely Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala, have used voting machines for panchayat polls held in the last few years.
- LIC policy was soled to the Afghan national based on forged documents. Besides the birth certificate, proof of residence and a photograph are needed to open an insurance policy with the LIC.
- As many as 18,122 beneficiaries out of a target of 29,240 across 301 session sites got the first dose of the vaccine in Bihar on Saturday.
- 35-year-old Babu was the first to receive the jab among 4.64 lakh healthcare workers in Bihar on Saturday.
- Kumar on Friday while speaking to reporters lost his cool at those who questioned him regarding the state of law and order in Bihar citing the death of IndiGo Patna station manager Rupesh Singh.