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Will Panjab University student council get a woman president this year?

Many feel that the reason for this is a regressive mindset of the majority who are of the opinion that women cannot represent students better than male representatives.

punjab Updated: Aug 29, 2018 11:23 IST
Arshdeep Arshi
Arshdeep Arshi
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Panjab University,pu student election,Panjab University elections
Students For Society is fielding Kanupriya as the woman presidential candidate this year. (HT Photo)

Even though 70% of Panjab University’s student population comprises women, it has never had a woman heading its student council.

Many feel that the reason for this is a regressive mindset of the majority who are of the opinion that women cannot represent students better than male representatives.

Though parties have been trying to change the trend by fielding women as their presidential candidates, but none of them have been able to win so far.

In 2006, National Students Union of India (NSUI) fielded a woman candidate, Abhilasha. Seven years later, in 2013, the Students Federation of India (SFI) fielded Navjot Kaur as their presidential candidate who got around 400 votes. The next year, Students for Society (SFS) fielded Amandeep Kaur.Though Amandeep did not win, her performance in the polls was a welcome change as she secured 1,334 votes, which was better than the previous women candidates.

In 2016, Siya Minocha of NSUI got 2,074 votes. Last year, SFS again fielded Hassanpreet Kaur, who became the runners’ up with 2,190 votes.

Navjot Kaur feels that the change in mindset will come with time.

“There are always those who wonder if a woman leader will be able to handle things or not, “ says Navjot adding, “However, there has been an improvement in the past few years. Parties have started fielding more women candidates and the political atmosphere is changing in terms of participation of women. Hopefully, we will soon see a woman president and the change she will bring in the university politics.”

Changing trends

Amandeep Kaur, the presidential candidate of Students for Society (SFS) in 2014, feels that the problem is that women do not have the space that men have in politics.

“Moreover, women themselves avoid coming into the limelight. Earlier, no one even questioned why there weren’t women presidential candidates. The talk about women leadership started only in the year when I was the candidate,” she said, adding, “Now, things are changing. Students have more trust in a woman leader. Let us see how it translates into votes this year,” she added.

Minocha feels that the trend is changing. “We will see a woman candidate being elected soon enough. Everything takes time to change. It took years for parties to even field a woman candidate and accept them as their representatives. But now they are confident.”

Dominant discourse is breaking

Meanwhile, last year’s runner up, Hassanpreet feels that the dominant discourse is breaking on the campus.

“Women’s assertion in politics has been less in the past. The assertion started building in 2015 when protests were held against sexual harassment and eve-teasing. I became the runner-up for the first time last year. Things are definitely changing,” she said.

Students For Society is again fielding a woman presidential candidate this year.

The candidate Kanupriya says, “Women’s issues are not understood and not raised in male-centric politics. During our campaign, the girls on campus have been demanding a woman candidate for this very reason. I am hopeful that the girl students will support me so that I can focus on their issues.”

First Published: Aug 29, 2018 11:17 IST