Her vote matters!

Are women in India redefining electoral politics? Is the new-found constituency of world’s largest democracy is women?

women-reservation

Being brought up in a politically influenced family, i have always remained fond of election campaign, news, voting and result and being a political reporter i have seen election very closely and with my own perspective. I remember the old days when i used to go to polling booth holding my mother’s hand, scared, of don’t know what (may be men in khakhi !). There used to be very small que of women voters. Hardly 5-6 women ahead us. But time has changes, in my tenure as a journalist i have seen a different electoral phase. The que getting longer and longer. Symbolising more and more politically aware women voters.

Even social media is getting flooded with politically influenced post and shares from women. Yes! This is the change. We are now talking about election, politics that once used to be discussion topics for our male counterparts only. Yes, elections over the last decade have brought more women to the polling booths in India. And today, her vote matters.

The 2019 Lok Sabha elections will be the first national elections where the overall turnout of women is expected to be higher than that of men.

140424163713-02-india-elections-0424-horizontal-large-gallery
AP Photo /Manish Swarup

Powerful women are no strangers to Indian politics. Indira Gandhi, held the position of prime minister for a total of fifteen years. Today, several prominent women dot India’s state-level political landscape, including Mayawati, the leader of the Bahujan Samaj Party, Mamata Banerjee, the incumbent chief minister of West Bengal, until December 2017, the president of the Indian National Congress, Sonia Gandhi and the emerging leader of congress Priyanka Gandhi.

When India and the United States held their inaugural 2+2 summit in September 2018, pictures from the press conference in New Delhi spoke a thousand words. The U.S. side was represented by two older white men. Whereas, two veteran female politicians sat on the dais representing India—External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Swaraj and Sitharaman preside over not just any two portfolios in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet but arguably two of the most consequential.

The increasing dependency of government on women politicians have influenced women to come out and vote. So, women have made great strides as voters also. When we look at the statistics, the gender gap in voting has substantially reduced: in the 1960s there were 715 female voters for every 1,000 male voters and in the 2000s there were 883 female voters for every 1000 male voters. In the 2014 national elections, female voters outnumbered male voters in several states, with Bihar and Odisha topping the list. Between 1962 and 2018, women voters’ turnout increased by 27 per cent, as opposed to men’s turnout, which increased only by 7 per cent in this time. The substantially increased turnout of women voters has started to affect election outcomes in recent years, and women’s issues now feature more prominently in election campaigns.

Targeting women voters separately as an interest group or a constituency is a new phenomenon in a democracy where caste, religion, region and ethnicity have been the major rallying factors for political parties to seek votes.

The present election campaign where Priyanka Gandhi can be seen surrounded be women voters gives a clear picture of how an increasing number of women are voting independently and do not consult their husbands on who to vote for.

person dropping paper on box
Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

Women voters making their own voting decisions has led political parties to promise special welfare measures related to women’s education, health, employment and safety in public places.

So, the most optimistic of scenarios in the present election is the unprecedented mobilization of female voters, a trend that is shaping how parties campaign and governs.

From journalist to stay-at-home mommy

 

My story of getting transformed into a full time mommy from being a full time journalist.

feeding bottle shallow focus photography
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Are you working? No, I am just a stay-at-home mom.

As if a mommy doesn’t work. As if being a mommy is shameful and you need to sound apologetic. So sorry, that I chose to stay at home and take care of my baby and family. I’m always amazed when women say “I’m just a stay-at-home mom”. What on earth made you say ‘just’? You are not ‘just’ a mommy, mind it. You are a 24×7 home maker, baby sitter, caregiver, chef, cleaner, teacher and everything on earth you can ever imagine.

Well my story goes like this, In 2017, I was still working. As in, I was running like a steroid-fuelled athlete, running with mic in one hand and camera in another, fighting for BREAKING NEWS, fuming behind politicians for interview, inhaling limelight and trying to convince a huge audience that my channel is the best and most authentic and I got paid for it (I was a journalist!). I am still working, fretting, fuming — but I don’t get paid for it. Yes! I am a stay-at-home mom.

Being a stay at home mom is not easy. No one said it ever was. But I, for one, was not prepared for this. I was a hard-core political journalist which I loved when I took the decision to have a baby. It was quite a spontaneous decision as I felt my biological clock was ticking and it made sense to have a kid sooner rather than later.

I worked till I was just three days away from my delivery. I wanted to utilize my 6 months maternity leave entirely post the baby. I had also saved few days of leave, which I knew my company would (as it generally does) allow me to take once I had exhausted my maternity leave. So with more than 6months in my kitty I was quite contented. It was post the baby that I felt I would not be able to leave the baby and go back to work. My Mom-in-law, my mommy gave me full support to return to work but I did the obvious for any first-time mommy. I QUIT. One fine morning I went office and mailed my resignation letter. I was happy I did it!

My baby is a toddler now, 19 months old. It has been a wonderful journey! A happy journey! To be honest though, I have doubted my decisions on numerous occasions. As I said it’s not easy. When you are a stay-at-home mom, what you do throughout the day is the biggest secret unknown to mankind. Nobody knows because they are not at home when you’re working without any break. Nobody cares to know because they are convinced that you are having much more fun than they are. It’s all your fault that you prefer to fill your day with needless errands and chores, when you can simply sit back and read a book.

Being a stay-at-home mom is not easy as you hardly get to meet people of your age and if you do, they are most often fellow moms. When you meet people your age, you now really don’t know what to talk about! All you talk is baby talk, realizing too late maybe that you are boring the rest.

The most important and most pessimist thing of leaving your job and becoming stay-at-home mom is, your colleagues are getting ahead in their careers whilst yours is going nowhere! And to top it off they are calling up to let you know!

So, yes there are days when I have mood swings! There are days when I doubt my decision! There are days I dream of getting back to work! There are days I count when I can get back to work! But those are just a few days.

What has made it easier of course is that I CHOSE to stay at home! A lot of my friends and family feel it is amazing that I decided to quit when my going was good to look after my kid. My answer to them has always been that I did it because I wanted to.

So, am I working? Hell yeah! I work for myself and my family. I may not always be happy with my appraisal reports and the bonus I get but I refuse to let my sense of self-worth be measured in terms of how much I don’t earn. I am a proud stay-at-home mommy.