#GenderEqualityElectionWatch: Manifest(o) Misogyny: The INC Manifesto for the Himachal Pradesh 2017 Assembly election


Election Manifesto 2017

In Himachal Pradesh, the Congress is seeking re-election so their manifesto opens by asking: Why the Congress again in 2017? The answers are not very persuasive, the content repetitive and the language weak. But never mind, because this is a gender audit and what we really want to know is what the Congress is promising to women and what its approach is to gender issues. On that note, in the introduction we are told that with the UPA, schemes have been introduced and implemented for the welfare of every section of society including women. They have gone, we are told, beyond the promises of their last manifesto. The introduction reassures us that women will be provided with respect and safety.

The Congress manifesto has a section “For Women” in which it promises:

  • Academic support to meritorious girl students.
  • Hostels for working women in cities.
  • Pension schemes for orphaned girls, girls and women with disabilities and widows.
  • Appropriate justice and administrative measures to fast track cases of harassment and misdemeanours against women.
  • Access to credit for self-employed women.
  • Self-defence training centres in every district to train women.
  • Women’s police stations in every district.
  • Anganwadi Centres in every village to take care of women and children.
  • Expansion of the free ambulance service for pregnant women.
  • A ‘Woman Safety Application’ will be operationalised for women’s safety.
  • Women’s organisations will be strengthened in every way.
  • The grant given for the marriages of the daughters of widowed women will be expanded.

Under the category of health care, it is promised that more women will be trained as nurses.

Overall, there is less text devoted in this manifesto to women (as compared to the BJP) but women for the Congress are students, workers and entrepreneurs. They are professionals—police and nurses. Their health-care needs, at least as mothers, are addressed. Self-defence and safety are addressed here, rather than the patriarchal attitudes that lead to violence, but the tone is less paternalistic.

Talking gender equality at election time (1)

Going by the Prajnya Gender Equality Election Checklist however:

  • Again, the numbers of candidates are low.
  • It is not clear how much support they are getting.
  • Misogynistic speech is a non-issue.
  • There is no promise to end impunity or to bar those who are charge-sheeted for crimes against women.

#GenderEqualityElectionWatch: Election Eve Punjab Report Card


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


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: Punjab Congress Manifesto Notes


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.

Women MPs in 15th Lok Sabha: Dr. Prabha Kishore Taviad


Basic Information:

Name: Dr. Prabha Kishor Taviad

Constituency: Dahod (Gujarat)

Party: Indian National Congress

Terms in parliament: First term

Age: 54

Contact Information: Jhalod road, opposite Mission Hospital, TA-Dahod, Dirtrict HDahod-389151, Gujarat.

Only woman candidate fielded by a political party in entire central Gujarat, Dr. Taviad was given a ticket to contest, chosen over veteran Congress leader Somjibhai Damor.  A gynecologist by profession, she campaigned door to door, tying scarves on the hands of the voters (like rakhis) which became a trademark of her candidature. One of seven candidates who had fought for a seat in the Dahod constituency, Dr. Taviad’s husband Dr Kishore Taviad is the Dahod district zilla panchayat president, and a seasoned politician.

For more details, visit the following links:

Women MPs in 15th Lok Sabha: Priya Dutt


Basic Information:

Name: Priya Dutt

Constituency: Mumbai North Central (Maharashtra)

Party: Indian National Congress

Terms in parliament: 14-15th parliament

Age: 42

Contact Information: Sunrise, 24th Road, Off. Link Road,Near National College, Bandra (W), Mumbai – 400 050,Tel :- 26004583, Fax : – 26005823

Priya Dutt is the daughter of the late Bollywood actor and politician Sunil Dutt, and actress and politician Nargis, and sister of Sanjay Dutt. This will be her second term in the lower House, and she has set clear goals for her term.Some of the areas in which she intends to focus are women’s welfare, youth affairs, infrastructure management, peace and communal harmony. A strong supporter of the Women’s Reservation Bill, Ms. Dutt is also an active social worker, having helped with AIDS awareness programs, and is also a Trustee of The Spastic Society of India.

For more details, visit the following links:

Women MPs in 15th Lok Sabha: Girija Vyas


Basic Information:

Name: Girija Vyas

Constituency: Chittorgarh (Rajasthan)

Party: Indian National Congress

Terms in parliament: 10-11, 13, 15th parliament

Age: 62

Contact Information: AB-96, Shahjahan Road, New Delhi-110 001
                                       Tels. (011) 3782212, 3381965

 Girija Vyas was the Chairperson of the National Commission for Women.  During her earlier tenure, she was instrumental in introducing an innovative project entitled ‘Chalo Gaon ki Ore’ aimed at comprehensive empowerment of women in the villages.  Under her guidance, the Commission had taken several measures to make its functioning much more effective and contributed to relieving the suffering of women by reviewing criminal laws for women and suggesting amendments to make them more effective, and the Commission had proposed schemes for financial compensation to and rehabilitation of victims of crimes like rape and acid attack.She has said creating awareness among women, particularly the rural women, about their rights is her priority. She has stressed the need for rural women to get involved in the rural employment scheme to become financially independent.

For more details, visit the following links:

Women MPs in 15th Lok Sabha: Chandresh Kumari


Basic Information:

Name: Chandresh Kumari

Constituency: Jodhpur (Rajastan)

Party: Indian National Congress

Terms in parliament: 8, 15th parliament

Age: 64

 Contact Information: Cloud and Villa,W.No. 4, Dharamshala (HP)

A daughter of Jodhpur, Chandresh Kumari belongs to the royal family, and returned to her hometown after nearly three decades. No novice in politics, she made her electoral debut from the Bamson assembly seat in Hamirpur in 1972. Thereafter, she shifted to her home district Kangra and won from Thural in 1982 and remained minister of tourism for some time.She has been able to win the favour of not only the entire Rajput community, but of other communities including Jats who have nearly 1 lakh strength in Jodhpur. Another factor, which goes in her favor, is her long association with the party and the considerable clouts her husband had with Rajiv Gandhi.

 For more details, visit the following links: