Make gender equality a central issue in 2021 elections!

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In Indian politics, there is no penalty or price to be paid for hate speech against women and gender minorities, nor for charges of sexual and gender-based violence. At most, the accused person is temporarily sidelined, to return quietly when the media has forgotten.

There is no point speaking in election rallies and manifestos of empowering women, when those who make the most appalling statements continue to be nominated, funded and supported by their party leadership. Worse, those charged with serious violence, from domestic abuse to rape, still seem to make it to leadership ranks. When there are no consequences for belittling, disregarding and violating the humanity of more than half the population, paternalistic promises (like wedding assistance or sewing machines) and protectionist measures (CC-TVs that also limit individual privacy and autonomy) are insincere sops. 

Political parties have lowered our expectations so much on being really committed to ending social inequality of any sort, that we do not even hold them responsible or accountable any more. 

This year, let us, voters, end this travesty and change this political culture. Join me in asking the nomination committees and manifesto committees of political parties to make a serious commitment to gender equality by adopting the following guidelines from the Prajnya Gender Equality Election Checklist

Make Gender Parity a Guiding Principle for Selection

  • Encourage members to nominate women.
  • Short-list an equal number of men and women for each seat before making a decision.
  • Actively seek to nominate a roughly equal number of men and women to contest elections.

DO NOT, we repeat,
Do NOT nominate those facing charges relating to sexual and gender-based violence unless and until a court absolves them.
Do NOT nominate those guilty of sexist and misogynistic speech.

Make Place for Gender Equality in the Party Manifesto

  • Expressly commit to gender equality.
  • Clarify party positions on issues relating to gender equality—violence, access to justice, access to opportunity and services and property rights, for instance.
  • Expressly commit to gender parity in key party and government positions.

Please sign my petition to press political parties to make serious gender equality commitments today.