Political parties and women’s leadership

Dear Editor,
The Indian National Congress over the years has gained support from women on two issues : empowerment of women and reservatiom for women. While the presence of women in Panchayati raj is largely due to them, the unfinished business of reservation in assemblies and Parliament will again be a focal point for women in the country every election. The fact that the Congress has not given the party ticket to its own All India Mahila congress leader Jarjum Ete speaks volumes on the duplicity and hypocrisy that exists behind such slogans in Arunachal and elsewhere. As a social and human rights activist , having lobbied for those women who had wanted tickets at various stages over the years, I have not hesitated in saying women must come in through whatever political parties are there to ensure their presence and to represent us. At such times the Congress has always given the excuse of ‘winnability’, thus losing out on very potential women leaders over the years particularly in Arumachal Nagaland and other states. I remember some years back, Jarjum calling me up in Delhi to help lobby for tickets for around 10 women leaders from Arunachal Pradesh. Both of us landed with these tough women to persuade a top leader then to consider them for Assembly tickets and it felt good to see these spirited women panchayat leaders totally ready for state elections !
Women leaders from this NE group had also written to Rahul Gandhi for two aspirants Jarjum and Bobeeta and we are seeing the real colours of Party leaders who fail to stand by their commitment. Jarjum Ete has been the face of Arunachal in decades of being her close acitivist friend on issues across our states and the country and beyond. If the Congress does not realise they need to set up such leaders of women, more is the pity. They have lost her to the JDS today. I wish her all the best knowing her perform her role over the years as a good wife and mother, loyal sister to her politician brothers for decades and her commitment on social issues has been unwavering. Every time she was denied a ticket I, as a close friend would repeatedly tell her leave the party. There have been times when I would chide her that she would find it difficult to Balance politics and activism over the years but she has managed to do so.
Good Politicians are made and moulded by circumstances. Despite having been offered different Party tickets at various stages of my activism over the years, I have been very clear about my calling that some of us are meant to be Queen makers and to fight other battles. I feel that our men in political parties, across states, fail to use their imagination on empowering our women, because they automatically think that every vocal woman leader pitching for space for women is politically ambitious and ignore the real politicians in the process. Time and circumstances will foretell the destiny of north east women in the coming days. My heart goes out to all those women like Jarjum who are getting ready to battle in electoral politics representing us. Be courageous, be different and make the difference for the poor, the disadvantaged and our youth and women. You will make make us proud.
Prof. Rosemary Dzuvichu
Nagaland University