In the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, The Quint’s ‘Me, The Change’ campaign is encouraging young voters and especially first-time women voters to go and exercise the power of their vote in the upcoming elections.
At an event in the city held by BBC Hindi, The Quint spoke to some women politicians about what they are trying to accomplish in politics, what they want for women and why there is a need for more women in the job.
What They Want for Women
All the women The Quint spoke to had specific ideas in mind when talking about what they want for women.
Apsara Reddy, a transgender woman, who in January took up the role of national general secretary of All India Mahila Congress, is a champion for both the transgender community and women across the country. Reddy says that she wants more women in Parliament and in leadership roles. She also said she wants women to empower other women on their journey to leadership.
Soni Sori, a tribal woman and activist from Bastar and now a member of the Aam Aadmi Party, said the main thing she wants other women to do is stand up for other women and support them in situations when they are close to breaking down. Having faced torture and sexual assault herself when in the custody of the Chhattisgarh state police, she says “All of us women need to stand with her and make her independent, so that if something like this happens, she can move forward and save herself and fight on.”
The Quint also spoke to two young women politicians who are sarpanchs of their respective villages. Seema Devi is a 24-year-old sarpanch from Haryana’s Kaithal village, who has faced much discrimination before she took up the role. The sole girl among the four candidates who stood for the elections, Devi says that while she works for the overall development of her village, she focuses on education for the women, becuase she feels that only through education can they enter politics.
Shahnaz Khan is a 25-year-old sarpanch from Rajasthan’s Mewat village. While her grandfather was also the sarpanch of the same village for over 50 years, Khan, who is also a doctor says that she works independently and follows her mind. She too says that while sanitation is an issue in her village that she is working to fix, the main issue in her focus is education for girls. She says that she really wants people in her village to send their girls to school so they can choose what to do with their lives.
Why They Want More Women in Politics
Reddy belives that women have a certain perspective and sensibility that adds to politics. She adds, “When we’re being legislated for, why not be part of the legislating process?”
Both Sori and Devi believe that women in positions of power will be able to do more for women because they understand their situation better and can help improve it. Devi adds that it would help in ensuring that atrocities against women are stopped.
Khan too has a specific reason for why more women need to be in politics. According to her, women in our society are more comfortable speaking to other women about their problems rather than men. She bases this on her own experience where she has seen women being more comfortable coming up to her and speaking about their problems rather than when there were men in the position.
They all have another thing in common – they all want the youth of the country to go and vote in the upcoming elections. So go vote!