For the first time in its history, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) in its state council meeting held in Kozhikode on Sunday elected three women leaders – Noorbina Rasheed, KP Mariyumma and Khamarunissa Anwar to the party state secretariat.
This move by the IUML, which claims to have 20,42,650 members, is touted as a shift in the acknowledged patriarchal structure of the party.
Noorbina is general secretary of the Vanitha League (the women’s wing of IUML), Mariyumma is the president while Khamarunissa is a former president.
“The membership of women in the party has increased and hence they have been given representation in the state secretariat, which is the apex decision-making body. However, women have been members in the state council though,” IUML state general secretary KPA Majeed told TNM.
On asked if it was a due recognition for women, Majeed said that this will be increased in the future.
“Being just three of them doesn’t mean that they won’t have any say in the decision making, they are indeed a part of it,” he said.
Founded six decades ago, IUML has fielded a woman candidate in the Assembly election only once while it hasn’t ever chosen a woman to take on its opponent in the Lok Sabha elections. In 1996 Assembly elections, Khamarunissa Anwar was the party candidate in Kozhikode.
In the March 2017 Malappuram bye-election, necessitated by the death of party senior leader and former union minister E Ahamed, though his daughter Fouzia Shersad was presented as the candidate by many, the party as usual zeroed in a male candidate. Fouzia who had initially been part of the discussions eventually remained silent on the whole affair.
Speaking to TNM about the ‘surprise’ development in the party secretariat, Noorbina Rasheed said, “Truly saying it was a surprise when our names were read out. We have been requesting this for some time. Women have ample representation in the party. But outside the impression is that the party is not a women-friendly one. By choosing three women to the state secretariat, the party has given a clear sign of transformation which would help to change its patriarchal image.”
On asked if she views it as a delayed development, she said, “No. Even in the Indian National Congress which was formed post-independence, women don’t have due representation. In IUML, women became members in the 90s only. The party has making changes prompted by the pressure of time. For us it’s a historic move. About the number – we don’t view it as just three, but as not one or two,” she said.
After the meeting on Sunday, the party said that the number of youth, women and workers have increased.
“The party has hence decided to give them more representation,” Majeed said. The party state secretariat has a total of 63 members.
UC Raman, former MLA from the party, said, “We see it as a positive development. We can’t say that it is delayed. Let more and more women come to the party’s core decision-making body.”
The party retained Panakkad Syed Hyderali Shihab Thangal as state president and KPA Majeed as the state general secretary.