This election, it’s time for women to take the lead
Mother India isn’t the only woman who’ll benefit when we vote in the 2019 Indian election; Indian women have more at stake than ever. Here’s why voting is one of the most empowering things we can do this year. Or even the next four.
“A man without a vote is a man without protection,” said Lyndon Johnson. While not the most inspiring quote on democracy, the 36th President of the USA’s take might be the most honest. And though he wasn’t thinking about women, his insight is doubly applicable to us.
At Basis, we’re big believers in women taking charge of their lives. By creating investment plans that address their specific needs, we power personal finance for women. Financial planning for women from diverse backgrounds has taught us that while monetary independence is key, the right political and social environment is non-negotiable. So, we’ll be lining up to vote. Here’s why you should be too:
Men have different priorities
Women’s safety. That was priority No. 1 amongst the women who participated in Change.org’s #SheVotes survey. How did the topic fare with the men? It was 15th on their agenda, being sidelined by concerns like corruption and economic growth. No points for guessing how our other top issues – marital rape, female participation in the workforce, girl child education, menstrual hygiene, maternal health and infant mortality – ranked.
Women’s safety is a major concern for female voters, while men worry more about corruption and employment.
The genders have always been focussed on different issues; in fact, when American women were fighting for the right to vote in 1890, they said that women deserve the ballot not just because we’re equal, but also because we’re different.
Moral of the story? If we don’t fight for our concerns, no one else will.
Empowered women empower women
A higher number of women voters could mean a higher number of female lawmakers. Voting for women leaders might be our only shot at better representation in the government since the Women’s Reservation Bill isn’t going to make a Bollywood-style comeback anytime soon.
There’s one woman MP per 9 million women in India, according to a 2014 study by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). That’s a shame because as panchayat leaders like Chavvi Rajawat and Meena Behen have shown, women in positions of power improve the welfare and economy of the entire community.
We make the world a better place
Apart from safety and health, women are more worried than male participants about pollution and forest conservation, according to the #SheVotes survey. The freedom of choice in religion and marriage also creased our foreheads, proving that women generally take a broader, more long-term view of things. There’s proof that women leaders improve the political decision-making process, no matter which party they belong to. Gender equality laws get a boost, as do policies that favour child welfare, care for the elderly, and women’s safety.
Women prioritise environmental policies more than men do.
We’re building momentum
With movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, we have been growing more vocal about our experiences and opinions. The upcoming election is a chance to keep the conversation going and create changes in policy.
Since 2014, female voter turnout has been on a high – in most states, women outnumber men. This is particularly true of women from traditionally marginalised sections, who understand the power of their vote. Surprisingly, the same logic influences female political candidates; a recent study shows that the more patriarchal a constituency is, the more women candidates it has.
While the BJP has rebalanced its 2014 economic manifesto with a women-first agenda for 2019, Rahul Gandhi has promised that by 2024, 50% of the CMs in Congress-ruled states will be women.
It’s unlikely that parties have discovered a feminist streak, so it’s clear that women have become a crucial vote bank; after all, democracy is a numbers game.
“People get the leaders they deserve,” the philosopher Joseph de Maistre once said. If we believe we deserve better, we must do better. So, will we see you at the polling booth this year?