Shakti, a non-partisan collective batting for better representation and increased participation of women in politics, met DMK Working President MK Stalin in Chennai on Saturday. With the 2019 Lok Sabha elections only a few months away, Shakti has been making appeals to all political parties across the country to increase the number of women candidates regardless of party.
The collective asked Stalin to field more women candidates from the party. In a petition submitted to the leader, Shakti pointed out that women’s representation is abysmally low at less than 9% in state assemblies, including in Tamil Nadu; and is barely 11% in the Parliament.
“Shakti requests that the DMK provide 50% tickets to women candidates in the upcoming 2019 general elections. We do understand the practical challenges thereof, and your commitment to increase the number of women Lok Sabha candidates significantly, even if not to 50%, would still be pioneering justice to Tamizh women’s political aspirations,” the women petitioned.
Tara Krishnswamy, Co-Convenor of Shakti said, "We made a strong case for DMK to field more women candidates this time. In the last election, a mere 5% of tickets were given to women by the DMK. Women are half the society and the social justice legacy of DMK has little meaning if political justice is not done to Tamil women. Unless political parties change their own internal mechanisms for women's representation in election committees and candidate selection process, it will be the same old recycled men candidates and India cannot make much progress."
Tara added, "Thiru MK Stalin listened patiently and reacted positively to the appeal. He agreed that more women should be in the Parliament and that the party will be serious about giving tickets to women."
Shakti also formally invited Stalin to participate in their event in Delhi on February 16 at the Constitution Club.
Shakti, which was formed in December 2018 to enable and encourage more women to enter politics, has been organising campaigns such as ‘Call your MP’ to further their cause. One of their goals is to get the Women’s Reservation Bill passed, which was approved by the Rajya Sabha in 2010 but relapsed in the 15th Lok Sabha.
Bader Sayeed, ex-MLA and senior advocate at the Madras High Court, said, "If parties take the lead and field 50% women candidates, even Women's Reservation will be redundant."
The collective wanted to meet AIADMK as well but said that it was unable to, due to the party leaders being unavailable. They are also awaiting appointments with the BJD, NCP, AAP, INC, CPI (M) and the BJP, to speak with them on the same issue.