THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The CPM is going ga ga over the Women’s Wall aimed at the ‘empowerment’ of the fairer sex. However, the party’s state and district committees paint a contradictory picture when it comes to giving a fair share to the fairer sex!
As per the party website, only 12 out of the 87-member state committee are women. P K Sreemathi is the lone woman in the nine-member party secretariat.
Women constitute just nine per cent of the 560-odd members in the 14 district committees. Kollam and Alappuzha district committees have the maximum number of women members - five each. Kannur, Kozhikode, Thrissur, Ernakulam and Kasargod have four members each.
Palakkad, Idukki, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta and Thiruvananthapuram have three women each. Two women each are in the district committees of Malappuram and Wayanad.
The district secretariats do not have women members except those women leaders in the state committee hailing from the district who are defacto entitled to attend the district secretariat meeting.
CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the party was giving due importance to women members. “Twenty-five per cent of our members in the state are women. But selection of leaders is performance-based and there is no difference between men or women. Only those who work well are appointed to the state and district committees,” he said.
As per the organisational report presented at the CPM state conference at Thrissur in February, the party had 4,63,472 members.
Party’s politburo member Brinda Karat said women’s involvement in the party was increasing. “For almost a decade, the party is witnessing a big increase in women’s recruitment. Consequentially, we have a large number of women coming into various leadership levels. This trend will increase in the future as well,” she said.
‘Making a mockery’
According to CDS professor and feminist scholar J Devika, issues like poor representation of women in the party’s leadership make the Women’s Wall a mockery. On party secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s theory of performance-based selection of women to party panels, she said: “The merit-based selection is akin to the argument of those opposing the reservation. Women can prove themselves only if they are given an opportunity. Now, women fare well as LSG representatives because they got an opportunity,” she said. “Increasing women’s representation was an active topic within the party by the end of 1990’s, especially during the 2008 Party Congress. However, nothing much happened later,” she added.