HYDERABAD: Once again this year, the major progressive parties in the University of Hyderabad seem to have resorted to allotting just token representation for women. As the University goes for its Students Union (SU) elections on Thursday, a section of students has expressed their disappointment with the continued tradition of having all-men panels for the top posts, while fielding women for the token posts of Cultural Secretary and Gender Sensitization Committee against Sexual Harassment (GS-CASH) member.
It may be recalled that the last SU president was a woman, and for the past two years, more women were being fielded in tops posts across parties, in what was a progressive move. This time, however, things have one back to square one. According to G Anju Rao, NSUI presidential candidate from 2017-18 polls, women cadre across the political spectrum are seen as a support system for campaigning and protests. But when it comes to projecting the face of the party, a male candidate is preferred, she said. “Parties somehow feel that voters will find the male candidate more confident. This is especially true when there are more parties in the fray and there is a fear of vote cut. Also, women are not very vocal even if they are sidelined,” he added.
Ishanee Sarmah, PhD scholar, while agreeing that women’s faces are not visible as men’s during elections, said that one can not look at gender without looking at the crisscrossing lines of caste and class. “Savarna women will always find it easier to enter circles of power than Dalit men. I think this dynamic should also be taken into consideration during discussions on the visibility of gender,” she said.
With unexpected last-minute alliances and several organisations going alone, this year’s elections witness a diverse political battle. Abhishek Nandan, the presidential candidate for progressive organisations like ASA, DSU, SFI and TSF, said: “The previous SU made a mockery of the mandate given to them. They joined hands with the administration and welcomed graded autonomy and self-financed courses, both threats to public education, into the campus.”