Are women going to gain anything out of this election? It’s atough question and there is no real answer to it. Democracygives you the rights. But it takes hard work for those rightsto be actualised. Even something like a reservation bill forwomen – that is ensuring that all legislatures must have acertain number of seats only for women – is problematic. Ingender fairness terms, women also have the right to votefor a man and people have the right not to have a candidateforced upon them.
But all arguments against affirmative action or reservations or quotas get stuck at the most important hurdle: what else can a society do to redress inbuilt, historical imbalances? Either way the road is long and tough. The only way women can get a fair deal is to demand it, speak up more and not get trapped endlessly in the arguments put forward by patriarchy.
We are still at the stage when women candidates tend to be related to some established male politician. Even Mayawati, a few times chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, had the backing of Kanshi Ram and his vision for the Bahujan Samaj Party. Mamata Banerjee is a rare example of a female politician who has risen to the top on her own strength – and it is a formidable achievement whatever your views on her politics. But Banerjee sadly exemplifies that old cliché: she is the exception not the rule.
But even if the road to elected glory is long and arduous, woman can and must assert their rights in as many ways as possible. They have to make their political voices heard even if it means defying family or community diktats about who to vote for. Many are more politically aware than they admit but do not always find the means to express their ideas. Actually, the secrecy of an election booth provides just that ideal opportunity. There’s no one with you and no one knows what you are doing.
The voting option may be obvious but it is no less significant for all that. The fight for universal franchise has been long and bloody worldwide and India is lucky that our Constitution makers saw the light before many other so-called developed nations.
Elections though follow a cyclical pattern and democracy is not just about voting. The fight for democratic rights has to be relentless. The only way out is for women to engage. Politics cannot and must not remain a male domain. Women will be taken more seriously only if they get more serious. Women’s issues are now limited to safety and security – which however vital often get mired in patriarchal concerns. But women also have a voice when it comes to non-female issues. Why should foreign relations or the economy or defence be part of the male discourse while women are contained within children, education and health?
There are no answers here. Only food for thought?
Health Check Up Camp for Adolescent Girls
A health check up camp was organized by Population First in collaboration with Empathy Foundation on 9th March 2014 for adolescent girls at Dolkhamb PHC. During the ARSH training sessions with adolescent girls, it was noticed that many girls suffer from variety of menstrual problems. Lack of availability of public health care facilities and inability to pay the fees of private health service provider has led the girls to fend for their gynecological problems. To address this issue, we sought collaboration with Empathy Foundation to organize a health check up camp for the adolescent girls focusing on their gynecological problems. Though there are total 125 adolescent girls in our intervention villages who are in need of this gynecological examination, owing to SSC Board exams the turn out for the camp was only 50 girls.
Dr. Tilak, Obstetrician and Gynecologist, examined the girls and prescribed medicines. Medicines were provided free of cost to the girls. Dr. Tilak further oriented the PF village coordinators on the follow up of these girls as well as the signs and symptoms of menstrual problems. He also briefed them about the symptoms which should be referred as emergency conditions for an expert’s advice.
Health check up camp for women on 7th April 2014
To mark the World Health Day on 7th April Population First in collaboration with Empathy Foundation, organized a health check up camp for women in Payarwadi ZP School, Shahapur. Women’s health issues were specifically addressed during the camp. Empathy foundation had arranged for 3 gynecologists to do the health check up of the women. More than 150 women of age group 15 years and above came to seek help for variety of their health complaints. These women belonged to villages surrounding Payarwadi. Ms. Damani and Mrs. Chedda, Trustees of Empathy Foundation inaugurated the health camp along with Mr. Sundareswaran, CEO, Empathy Foundation. Information sessions regarding women’s reproductive health were conducted by resource person Devshala for the women attending the workshop.