news Monday, July 13, 2015 - 05:30
Look but you will not find. That is the status of women in the legislatures of the five southern states of India. Over six decades after India became free, numerous resolutions and committees were set up to involve women in key political roles, but the five states – which are also amongst India's most educated – have a dismal record on women's political empowerment. Women’s participation in the political process has not made much headway nationally, because nobody is serious about it. The bill for women’s reservations in Parliament is still being squabbled over, mostly by male politicians. At the local body level, several states have done well – some have provided for half of all seats to be contested by women. Participation has improved, but the glass ceiling remains – being a minister or heading the party is still out of reach. Real power lies with the chief minister’s office, and none except Jayalalithaa have made it in the southern five. (Janaki Ramachandran was the chief minister for less than a month in January 1998, after M G Ramachandran had died, so this doesn’t really count.) But the chief minister’s post is still far away – there aren’t enough ministers in the state cabinets of the five states. In a bid to rectify this state of affairs, a Congress MLA in Telangana has approached the Supreme Court, urging it to direct the state government to include women in the Cabinet – Telangana has none. The Times of India reported that the PIL filed by Gadwal MLA D K Aruna is likely to come up for hearing in the court next week. Andhra Pradesh Council of Ministers - 20 Number of women ministers - 3 Paritala Sunithamma: Departments of Price Monitoring, Consumer Affairs, Food and Civil Supplies Peethala Sujatha: Women Empowerment, Child Welfare and Disabled and Senior Citizens Welfare, Mines and Geology Kimidi Mrunalini: Rural Development, Housing, Sanitation Karnataka Council of Ministers Council of ministers: 30 (23 cabinet ministers + 7 ministers of state) Women ministers: 1 Umashree (minister for state): Departments of Women and Child Development, Empowerment of Differently Abled and Senior Citizens, Kannada and Culture Kerala Council of Ministers - 21 Women ministers - 1 P K Jayalakshmi: Departments of Welfare of Scheduled Tribes, Youth Affairs, Museum and Zoos Tamil Nadu Council of Ministers - 30 Women ministers - 3 Chief Minister Jayalalithaa: Departments of Police, Home, Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service, Indian Forest Service, General Administration, District Revenue Officers, B. Valarmathi: Departments of Social Welfare and Nutritious Noon Meal Programme, Social Welfare, Women's and Children's Welfare, Orphanages and Correctional Administration, Integrated Child Development and Beggar Homes, Welfare of the Differently abled, Social Reforms S. Gokula Indira: Departments of Handlooms and Textiles Telangana Council of ministers - 18 Women ministers - nil