There is a severe paucity of women participation in the electoral process at both end of the spectrum – the political representation of women and women voter turnout -resulting from the deeply entrenched patriarchy and misogyny that characterises the socio-political culture of our society;
At the representation end the issue remains that law makers refuse to allow constitutional changes for increased participation of women. Even if an argument can be made for the number of reserved seats for women being sufficient, it belies the real issue of the inherent nepotism and dynastic leaning of politics whereby male representatives use female family members as proxies. Other obstructions include withholding of funds for campaigning of female members by parties and parties using the reserved seats for female members as a front to covertly represent their male members. This suppresses, frustrates the work and ideologies of actual female political workers struggling for the party.
At the elective end, we see women who are irrevocably cognisant of their right and need to vote but are obstructed by the same patriarchal and misogynistic values. The establishment must accommodate female voters to allow for a fair and inclusive election. This entails setting up separate polling and providing security against harassment and coercion.
It is imperative that our legislation and polity facilitates women to avail political positions and votes as more than a token statistic of 10%, or as proxies for male members. Women have stood equal to men in matters of political expertise time and again and bring a more nuanced approach to politics. Where well-educated and qualified women should be selected based on merit to off-set nepotism, the inclusion of women has to come from diverse backgrounds to voice the concerns of every class. At the voting end women’s historical struggle to suffrage has to be revered and facilitated by a democratic establishment.