Women quarantined from politics
Barring the Congress Party, in Meghalaya, other political parties have muted the voices of women. Politics is a male-dominated domain because the gendered adage that women in politics are equivalent to hens that crow, still lurk in the mindsets of the 21st century Khasi male. Women’s wings of political parties are meant to be activated just before elections so that they can go for door to door campaigns and get votes for their male candidates. The lady contestant from Rajabala has been given the ticket only because she is the wife of the former deceased MLA and could possibly win sympathy votes, else she would never be considered a fit enough candidate.
In the political eco-system of Meghalaya today the only person with a political view who speaks on behalf of her Party is Ampareen Lyngdoh. She has earned her spurs after being elected thrice over and having held the post of a cabinet minister. Regional parties like the UDP, HSPDP et al have never had women spokespersons and that’s no surprise. Women in Meghalaya don’t occuply important spaces in political parties either because of male insecurity lest women carve out ther own political niches or because society feels that women already have enough to deal with in their day to day lives and politics is best left to men. Also, it appears that women themselves concede space to the male because they feel that having been given the right of lineage (Ki nongkit ia ka kur), they should not also aspire to take away politics (which embodies more of power and privilege and less of service, responsibility and accountability) from the hands of the male.
It is customary in Meghalaya and perhaps other states too that when election season appears on the horizon, some political parties make their debut. Each of these parties promise change. What no one asks them is what change do they propose to bring and the larger meaning of CHANGE? Is it a change in political attitudes bringing gender justice even in political representation? Is it a change in governance models where women are given space to lead the change and be changemakers? Are any of the new parties including the New Dawn and Voice of the People’s Party ready to cede space and give voice to women and their generic and specific problems especially in the health and nutrition sector? One has to be a woman to understand where the shoe pinches and hurts the most. Have the problems faced by single mothers ever featured in the Assembly? Not till date. Hence all gender equitable goals in resource allocations are left undone. Women in Meghalaya must claim their space in politics.