Representation
Political parties often say they aren't able to find women candidates, but activists say it's an "insult" to scores of women party workers who support them.

Scores of people from all walks of life gathered in Bengaluru’s Freedom Park on Thursday, demanding that the Election Commission make political parties give 50% of their tickets to women in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. This was organised by non-partisan political collective Shakti, which was formed to enable more women to join politics.

Posters and slogans of ‘Man 2 Man to Manliament’, ‘A better democracy is where women do not have only the right to vote but get elected’ and ‘EC neither free or fair, tickets to women are so rare,’ among others were raised at the venue. The event was held in eight cities across the country.

Tara Krishnaswamy, the co-convener of Shakti, said, “Our parliament has a dismal 11% of women, and [almost] 90% are men. These men are sitting and passing laws on what should be the tax on sanitary napkins etc. They don’t have the experiences that we do. As a result, parliament is coming out with laws and policies that are heavily skewed. In fact, we sat on one knee to show that the parliament is imbalanced, we don't have 50% in parliament.”

The collective had recently met with DMK President MK Stalin in Chennai and asked him to field more women candidates from the party.

“We've written to BJP president Amit Shah, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and others asking them to give 50% tickets to women. When we meet and talk to them, in principle they're very supportive of it. But the typical question that comes up is -- you know, we are not able to find women candidates. We find it hypocritical that they say that,” Tara added.

“The BJP said that they have 3 crore women party workers, the All India Democratic Women’s Association of the Communist Party says on their webpage that they have one crore women. But suddenly when it comes to giving tickets they don’t find any women at all? That’s an insult,” she said.

The event also emboldened people who wish to get into politics, but are afraid to do so. 20-year-old Shalom Gauri, who will be voting for the first time in the upcoming election, says that an event like this gives her the confidence to speak.

“I’ve always been interested in politics, and Shakti has given me the confidence to speak about it openly because it was always a bit scary before. The scary part is not going out and changing the world, it’s sitting in a room full of uncles who are throwing shoes at each other and trying to speak,” she said.