A Mother’s Day Bouquet by Prajnya Summer Interns

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flowersPrajnya’s 2017 Summer Interns have prepared a small bouquet of creative writing for Mother’s Day. It’s a little late going online, but better late than never!

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#GENDEREQUALITYELECTIONWATCH: Uttarakhand

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Again, this is getting written on election day in Uttarakhand. What that means is that it will largely end up being an account of numbers–how many women and how many mentions in a manifesto. The lack of consistent, everyday monitoring means that we do not get to track campaign speeches for misogyny. This election watch project has also missed out on checking out criminal charges of candidates. Notwithstanding these shortcomings, I would say it is worth finishing what we started so here is a gender analysis of the election in Uttarakhand.

How many women? 

Last update: Feb 15, 2017
Assembly size: 70
Source: elections.in
Seats contested Women nominees
Samajwadi Party 51 NA
Uttarakhand Kranti Dal 70 NA
BJP 70 5
Congress 70 9
BSP 24 1
Rashtriya Lok Dal 3 0

What is left to say about the low percentage of women nominees?

Gender in the manifestos

As hard as it is to find gender sensitivity in party manifestos, it is hard to find the manifestos themselves. What is the point of a manifesto that cannot be easily found in the public domain? It must be to minimises traces of promises made and the opportunity cost of accountability.

Based on a news report, the Congress manifesto promises 33% reservation for women in government jobs. The other promise with gender transformational potential is to set up five aapda mitra (in every village?) or disaster relief workers. If 2-3 of them were women, that would alter the face of disaster mitigation, relief and rehabilitation in Uttarakhand. However, we have no way of knowing more.

The BJP manifesto, also culled from a newsreport, includes a cash gift to girls: “Rs. 5,000 for every girl child born in poor families” and a removal of the age bar for widow pensions at Rs 1000. Very interestingly, it promises that, “The opinion of all women on triple talaq will be taken and placed in front of Supreme Court.”

For the other parties, there did not even seem to be reports on the manifesto release. Did they not bother?

#GenderEqualityElectionWatch: Goa

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It’s voting day today in Punjab and Goa. The one-person team doing this election watch exercise has proven inadequate to the task of genuinely monitoring the election season.

Nevertheless, here is a post on the Goa election season.

Last update: Feb 4, 2017
Assembly size: 40
Source: http://www.elections.in/goa/
Seats contested Women nominees
INC 27 3
BJP 29 1
NCP 5 1
AAP 36 4
Shiv Sena 4 0

Manifestos for Goa were released rather late, going by press reports. Is that because they were considered irrelevant to the outcome? That would also account for how hard it has been to locate them (full-text) online. If manifestos don’t matter, why draft them? Finding the full-text version is important to a gender equality audit because gender provisions and promises are usually platitudes and do not merit mention in press releases and reports.

The BJP’s Goa manifesto could not be located online after a careful search that included the Goa BJP website and Twitter account. The search for the Congress manifesto yielded this tweet, the first explicit reference to safety I have seen. Nothing shows up for the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party.

The Aam Aadmi Party had begun announcing its candidates as early as August and they have the only easily-located manifesto of the lot. It looks like the manifesto is the product of a dialogue process (the cover says “Contributed by 350+ Goa Dialogues”).

The AAP Goa manifesto opens with a listing of four social welfare schemes to benefit women–Saksham Asturi, Rs. 2500 a month for skill development; Ladli Laxmi, 2 lakhs for young women; Mamta Scheme, 50,000 for girl children; and Grih Aaadhaar for families. Each of these is described in greater detail in the text.

The AAP manifesto specifically calls out misogynistic speech by Goa politicians and for this, receives full marks from this Gender Equality Election Watch: “Women in Goa are known for their entrepreneurial spirit which the past Governments have absolutely overlooked. It is high time that women here are provided the right environment to flourish financially and socially. Their resolve and vigour is almost unparalleled across the country but instead politicians have not left a stone unturned to verbally and physically insult women [emphasis added].

Check out their other promises which show breadth in their thinking: Women are workers, need access to health and justice  at all life-stages and social safety nets. They are not imagined just as mothers or as economic actors.

aapss

Goa is voting as I write this post. Let’s see what happens.

#GenderEqualityElectionWatch: Election Eve Punjab Report Card

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Women candidate tally

Last update: Feb 2, 2017
Assembly size: 117
Source: http://www.elections.in/punjab
Seats contested Women nominees
S. Akali Dal 94 4
INC 117 11
BJP 23 3
BSP 18 0
AAP 117 9
CPI-ML (Liberation) 8 0
Trinamool Cong 15 2
Punjab Front 15 0
Apna Punjab Party 86 4

Manifestos

We’ve already discussed the Congress manifesto here.

The Shiromani Akali Dal manifesto mentions the enhancement of two existing schemes, the Shagun scheme where the government gifts a poor family a sum of money upon the wedding of a daughter and the Babe Nanake Ladli Beti scheme where families receive a sum upon the birth of a daughter. In addition, under the header ‘Women’ they promise free ‘swing’ machines to all girls/women who pass Class 10, bicycles to graduates and 33% reservation in rural and urban local government institutions including Panchayati Raj and Municipal Bodies. Finally, the highlights list sports training and stadia in every district under the header ‘women’ and promise government jobs to sports medal-winners.

The Aam Aadmi Party has released several manifestos in Punjab, for youth, for farmers and for Dalits, and all three are gender-blind except for a Shagun scheme of their own, mentioned in the farmers’ manifesto. Its final comprehensive manifesto contains a section on ‘women’ which fares better than the other parties’ attempts:

  • “33% reservation for women in jobs. Women employees will preferably be posted in their home district.
  • Salaries of Anganwadi workers/helpers, Asha workers and Mid day meal helpers salaries will be doubled. Women hostels in every district.
  • Special Police wing to crack down on menace of ‘Holiday brides’ and domestic abuse.
  • Suraksha button on every mobile phone with emergency connectivity with Punjab Police via Wi-Fi.
  • Special Fund for women and children of victims of domestic violence and abuse.
  • Money to be adjusted against maintenance granted by courts and will be recovered from husbands or those responsible for paying.
  • 100,000 (one lakh) toilets for women in public spaces. 
  • Swift and effective justice in Crimes Against Women. Fast track courts to be built and made functional.
  • Women employees will be given child care leave and provided crèche facilities at the work place.”

It wasn’t possible to locate a full-text version of the BJP manifesto but the press release everyone carried stated, “On the education front, the manifesto assures making free the studies of girls till Ph.D. level.”

Overall grade

It is impossible to endorse any Punjab political party as being singularly committed to gender equality, but a cursory glance suggests that in terms of nominating women, Congress and AAP lead but AAP’s manifesto indicates that there are more people in AAP thinking about meaningful inclusion than there are in other parties.

#GenderEqualityElectionWatch: Counting women candidates

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As candidate lists emerge across the states, we are counting and trying to list women candidates across the major parties in each state. At the moment it looks like 9 is the magic percentage. No matter how many candidates are being fielded, the percentage of women candidates seems to hover at around nine percent. So far from gender parity, that it’s not even worth mentioning the phrase!

Access the Women Candidates List here as we update it.

Where are we getting this data from? Primarily one site that seems to be uploading lists as they emerge. The lists are not gender disaggregated so then we pore over them and arrive at this count, based on what appear to be women’s names. This is obviously not the best way–just the most expedient.

We therefore invite political parties to check our information and feel free to send us updates, corrections and lists of their women candidates. You can email us at psw.prajnya@gmail.com or tag us on Twitter @prajnya.

 

#GenderEqualityElectionWatch: Goa and Punjab Candidate list update

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It’s candidate list time.

Goa

The BJP’s first list for Goa includes 29 candidates (40 seats in Goa) and of these 29, only one candidate is a woman–Alina Matanhy Saldanha, the sitting MLA from Cortalim.

AAP has announced 36 candidates. Of these, four are women. These are Ursula D’Souza from Aldona, Sraddha Khalap from Mapusa, Lorreta D’Souza from Vasco-da-gama and Cecille Rodrigues from Taleigao.

The Congress list of 27 candidates includes three women: Jennifer Monserrate from Talaigao, Urmila Naik from Margao and Savitri Kawlekar from Sanguem.

The Shiv Sena has nominated no women.

The NCP has nominated five candidates and one, Nelly Rodrigues (from Cortalim), is a woman.

(Source: http://www.elections.in/goa/assembly-constituencies/candidate-list.html)

Punjab

The BJP‘s first list of candidates for Punjab nominates seventeen, of which two are women, both sitting MLAs: Seema Kumari of Bhoa and Sukhjeet Kaur Sahi from Dasuya.

The Shiromani Akali Dal has nominated 87 candidates of whom four are women: Upinderjit Kaur from Sultanpur Lodhi, Vaninder Kaur Loomba from Sutrana, Harpreet Kaur Mukhmailpur from Ghanaur and Bibi Mohinder Kaur from Sham Chaurasi.

The Congress has across three lists nominated 100 candidates. Nine are women. These are: Aruna Chaudhary from Dina Nagar, Satkar Kaur from Firozpur Rural, Ranjit Kaur Bhatti from Budhlada, Harchand Kaur from Mehal Kalan, Karamjit Kaur Chaudhary from Phillaur, Rajwinder Kaur Bhagikay from Nihal Singhwala, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal from Lehra, Karon Kaur Brar from Muktsar and Razia Sultana from Malerkotla. Incidentally, the first six are constituencies reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates.

AAP has nominated 117 candidates and nine are women. AAP women candidates are Harjiot Kaur from Banga, Sarvjit Kaur Manuke from Jagraon, Rupinder Kaur from Bathinda Rural, Palwinder Kaur from Shutrana, Prof. Baljinder Kaur from Talwandi Sabo, Balbir Kaur Phull from Dasuya, Sarabjit Kaur from Dera Bassi, Anu Randhawa from Ghanaur and Kuldeep Kaur Tohra from Sanour. The first four are reserved SC seats.

There do not appear to be any women among the 18 BSP Punjab candidates.

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In sum, political parties are performing pathetically on the inclusivity criterion.

 

#GenderEqualityElectionWatch: Punjab Congress Manifesto Notes

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On January 9, 2017, the Indian National Congress released its Punjab manifesto. This is a 129-page epic for which they could not find an editor, but never mind that–after all, if someone gets their gender politics right, we won’t care how they write!

Simplifying the word ‘gender’ to mean ‘women’ (which we will end up doing everywhere, I suspect!), I found only one section called ‘Women Empowerment’ whose provisions were extended and elaborated twice. In the nine-point opening summary, this is what we read: “Women Empowerment: 33% reservation for women in jobs and educational institutions”.

Further down, on page 26, this is extended to include allocation of residential and commercial plots. Moreover, reservation for women in urban and rural self-government would go up to 50%.

Finally, on page 110, the Manifesto makes seven additional promises, including livelihood training for widows of farmers who have committed suicide; free education for girls; Safe Cities for women and Crisis Centres; a stronger State Commission for Women and a State Policy on Women’s Empowerment.

There is one other provision that applies to women–it is the promise to require registration of NRI marriages as a protection for brides.

Women do not appear anywhere else in the Manifesto. The list of poll promises is as generic as it gets. There is little clue that anyone gave gender issues or gender equality any thought. Hardly very surprising, and perhaps this is what we can expect from all the Manifestos, which makes it a very good reason to audit them for their gender provisions and call them on their shortcomings.