When will our voices be heard, women ask policy-makers

Ensuring safety, representation, and access to social security schemes are some of the demands that women in Chennai have raised.

Published: 08th March 2021 04:10 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th March 2021 04:10 AM   |  A+A-

For representational purposes (Photo | Amit Bandre, Express Illustrations)

For representational purposes (Photo | Amit Bandre, Express Illustrations)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Although they outnumber male voters in all 234 Assembly constituencies in the State, women voters are still looking to be adequately represented and have their voices heard. On the occasion of International Women’s Day (March 8), women in the State expect policymakers to come up with a sustainable approach towards their welfare.

Ensuring safety, representation, and access to social security schemes are some of the demands that women in Chennai have raised. Prasanna Gettu, Managing Trustee of Chennai-based International Foundation for Crime Prevention and Victim Care, said that it was high time that targeted actions by the State government for their perceived empowerment of women are replaced by a more sustainable approach.

“Instead of targeted measures for women empowerment by specific departments, gendered aspects should be made part of every action of the government across various departments and sectors. For instance, even if a new road is being laid and women have to take a different route, it has to be ensured that the alternative route is well-lit and safe for women to travel,” said Gettu. “It is only when such aspects are integrated into everyday governance that the approach becomes sustainable,” she added.

South Chennai MP Thamizhachi Thangapandian’s interactions with women voters in her constituency left her with varied takeaways. “There is one section of women who are concerned with policies and legal aspects like the status of marital rape or 33 per cent reservation for women. On the other hand, for the women working in unorganised sectors and those living in resettlement sites in my constituency, their demands are very basic,” the MP said.

The main issue for many of these women is their non-inclusion in social security schemes, she said. “In many cases, women won’t have access to old age pension, because they have a house. They may not have any source of income, but own a small house. Such guidelines need to be done away with,” she added.
R Geetha, a social activist, said that Pennurimai Iyakkam, that she is a part of, had raised several issues ahead of International Women’s Day, on behalf of the women working in unorganised sectors.

This included the formation of women-led complaint committees to investigate and act on sexual harassment complaints in all organisations having more than 10 workers, as mandated by Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

Women with disabilities are often subjected to two-pronged discrimination and marginalisation, putting them at a more disadvantageous position as far as the economic and social statuses are concerned. Aiswarya Rao, a paediatrician and disability rights activist, said five per cent reservation should be sanctioned in the allotment of agricultural lands and housing for persons with disabilities and development programmes, with priority for women with benchmark disabilities.

Benchmark disability
Benchmark disability refers to having more than 40% disability, as recognised by Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, said Aishwarya, while pitching for a reservation


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