HYDERABAD: Political parties may help you get your daughter married off, but probably cannot assure her workplace safety. At a time when women are fighting hard for equal representation and equal access to public spaces, manifestos of most political parties are conspicuously silent on the issue, at least going by their manifestos.
The #MeToo movement, that caught the nation’s attention in the very recent past, finds no mention in manifestos of BJP, People’s Front or the TRS. No party has recognised the issue or presented ideas or solutions to deal with sexual intimidation and harassment at the workplace. A cursory reading shows that most measures meant for women are, indeed, patriarchal.
The most prominent promise is financial assistance for marriage and parties are contesting with each other in this aspect. While Congress promises a dole of 1.5 lakh, BJP has assured 1 lakh and 1 tola gold and TRS plans to continue with 1 lakh assistance. “Cash transfer for marriage assistance has proven to be ineffective,” says child rights expert Mamtha Raghuveer.
“The manifestos do not have anything with regards to protection of child rights. We need to devise better policies to that effect. We must encourage education of girls through scholarships,” says Mamtha. Experts add that it’s voter appeasement that is making parties focus on financial aid for marriage rather than education and safety.
“The manifestos seem to be focused on giving money rather than empowering them to make their own decisions and taking charge of their life,” notes women’s rights activist Sajaya Kakarla. For instance, most parties promise to waive off interest on loans given to self help groups while the focus must also be on providing them skills to become self-sufficient, profit-making bodies.
This is crucial because 11 out of the 31 districts in the State have more women voters than men. The manifesto of TRS and BJP also don’t seem to have ideas on improving women’s safety. Congress, meanwhile, wants to expand the She Teams to cities and villages. It also assures that it will ensure the presence of female sub inspector and constables in every police station.
For a State that tops the charts with regards to child marriages, none of the political parties have assured any action on that regard. Neither is there any mention on trafficking, caste-based killings or other such issues that affect women. Funnily enough, all three parties together have put forward only 51 women candidates, but have promised in chorus to assure 33 per cent reservation for women in the Assembly.