Sparks fly at discussion on gender equality, elections

Some statements made by one of the speakers on the role of women in politics drew rebuttals from the audience
Last Updated 31 March 2019, 12:15 IST

Most women in politics have got there at the prompting of their fathers and husbands, and that is not always a good thing, some speakers said at a session on women and politics on Saturday. On the occasion of their first anniversary, women’s group Hithaishini Mahila Adhyayana Kendra hosted a discussion on the election culture and women in politics at Kannada Sahithya Parishath, Chamrajpet.

Dr R Poornima and Dr N Gayathri, conveners of Hithayshini Mahila Adhyayna Kendra, were the facilitators while political and development economist Dr T R Chandrashekar and former minister Leeladevi R Prasad were the speakers. Congress politician Motamma was to join the event, but couldn’t make it because of her engagements.

The facilitators addressed the decreasing rate of women participating in elections and politics. Gayathri said that women come into politics due to persuasion from their family or as a proxy to a deceased politician from their family. She cited examples of Tejaswini Ananth Kumar and Sumalatha Ambareesh.

For good governance, women should participate in politics independently with interest, she opined.

‘Women leaders are necessary for development’

Bengaluru’s first woman counsellor, Leeladevi Prasad, now 85, talked about her journey in politics.

Leeladevi had contested 10 times in elections and has won three council and MLA elections before becoming the Minister of Women and Child Development for Karnataka.

She spoke about how the electoral process has become expensive, observing that while she spent only Rs 25,000 during her participation in the MLA elections, candidates now are spending Rs 80 lakh to 1 crore just for the nomination process.

Questioning the low rate of women representatives in politics, she insisted that women shouldn’t be demotivated by politicians and their ways and should actively participate in electoral politics. “Development won’t happen until there are more women leaders,” she added.

‘Gender equality is a social value’

Dr T R Chandrashekar, professor at Hampi Kannada University, spoke about how electoral politics reflect the happenings in the society. Observing that politics is biased by gender, caste, religion and economic status, he said, “Not just women, people in general face problems contesting in elections.”

Saying that women are excluded in every field and not just politics, he also added that only women leaders can’t promise development, citing Anitha Kumaraswamy’s administration as an example.

He also used the example of Leeladevi (who had mentioned that she contesting in the corporation election was her husband’s idea) to opine that women don’t contest in elections by their will. The women in the audience disagreed to the statements made by him on Anitha Kumaraswamy and Leeladevi Prasad.

Statements on gender equality see counters from audience

Talking about gender equality, Chandrashekar said that it was a social value and not an instrument to achieve something. Quipping that not speeches but workshops at school and college levels will help the cause of equality, he also added that education and career are not equality. The audience retorted by saying that women have come a long way with the help of education and career and it is a crucial aspect in the path to development.

(Published 31 March 2019, 12:05 IST)

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