The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly election saw a huge voter turn-out, 71%, which is the highest since independence. But what was the stand of women in the elections? The total registered women voters were 5,03,086 but what percentage of them voted and among them how many voted for the candidate they wanted to.
Since a very long time women have braved all odds to get success in this male-dominated political world. Indian politics is full of completely self-made women leaders who are full of aspirations- from Mamata Banerjee, Jayalalitha to Mayawati and Sonia Gandhi.
Despite this, women in J&K elections were not given enough recognition. There are only 2 women candidates in the first phase of Assembly elections out of a total of 123 candidates. The reason could be either the women are not confident enough or the parties don’t trust them to charge with such responsibility. There were many campaigns to procure high voter turn-out, including some drives for women voters like SVEEP and Wake Up Jammu campaign.
But with hardly any representation of women in politics the women voters won’t feel encouraged enough to come out and vote finding no voice of their own that would take up gender issues and sensitization in the state.
The urban women are reluctant to go and cast vote as they see it as an ordeal, says Smita Sethi, the joint director of Directorate of Information and Media centre. The common view is if she is earning and secure in her home she does not need to be concerned about the policy making of the state or nation. As opposed to them women in rural areas are more involved and see it as their duty toparticipate in the elections.
They demand answers from their chosen representatives, they pressure those chosen ones to solve their problems which concern basic amenities like electricity, water, land. Rural India’s basic sustenance is still largely dependent on the government unlike the urban voter, which has minimum direct contact with the government in terms of their basic livelihood. Rural women, an equal if not more contributor in terms of labour for the livelihood expects solutions from those in the ministry.
As opposed to that urban women, divorced from labour relating to livelihood stays marginalised in their ivory towers. Re-education, awareness and a call to their sensibilities for social justice is in order, in this postlapsarian state of J&K.
By: Garima Sobti