Women parliamentarians defying stereotypes
Indian women are not just breaking the glass ceiling but also proving that gender is now an absolute non-issue
India's women are creating waves and how. Defying stereotypes they are not just breaking the glass ceiling but emerging as thought leaders admired the world over.
Apart from foraying into several professions that until recently carried the "men only" tag, their growing numbers as lawmakers with increased presence at all levels from local bodies to parliament will hopefully help bridge the "gender divide" that mocks the premise of an equal society in our country.
78 women members out of the total 542 in the Lok Sabha (the lower house of parliament) may be still very small compared to the number of men but it is still significant when we note that they were a mere 5 per cent in the first Lok Sabha and has grown to 14 per cent in the 17th.
The number of women who contested polls are a significant 724, indicating that there are many more women today coming out of the confines of their homes and looking at making a contribution in public life.
Just a cursory look at the presence of women members in this august house over the last three years shows their increasing influence.
From 52 women in the 15th Lok Sabha to 64 in the 16th and 78 in the present, the steady growth in their number is a heartening feature and reflective of their choices.
Even as the bill for 33 per cent reservation for women is pending in parliament, their steady rise through the rough and tumble of politics makes women empowerment real.
Members of parliament like Sonia Gandhi, Hema Malini and Kirron Kher, lead the pack of 27 out of 41 sitting women MPs who retained their seats showing their connect with the people of their constituency.
Much as people like to dismiss women for being pretty faces who emerge winners by fluke, the fact that they retain their political bastions coming back to power for another term just proves that they take their work just as seriously as their male counterparts.
Most of the giant killers in this election are women. Smriti Irani remains a source of inspiration and the way progressed in the party trouncing the powerful Gandhi scion Rahul Gandhi is replete with many lessons.
Smriti was ridiculed for being an actress, mocked over her educational qualifications and dismissed as Smriti - who? by entitled sections but she has taken it all in her stride.
Mockery, trolls and failure didn't dampen her spirit and she has scripted success through hard work and perseverance.
The other giant killer SadhvI Pragya ostracized for her opinions and lambasted as a terror accused had the last laugh when she emerged winner over veteran politician Digvijaya Singh.
And what do these women prove as they steer clear of controversies, trials and tribulations to register their presence as winners. A steely determination and "never- say- die" spirit.
Nirmala Seetharaman may not have contested direct elections but her phenomenal rise from party spokesperson to the most powerful ministries through the Rajya Sabha route is an incredible story of recognition for qualifications, talent, articulation and efficiency, where gender became an absolute non-issue.
She not only proved her mettle as the country's defence minister but is all set to helm its destiny in her crucial role as finance minister.
The initial despondency in the financial markets when the name of the woman finance minister was announced reeks of the deep rooted gender-bias in our society. The subsequent recovery however shows the winds of change and the realisation that she was extremely well suited for her job.
The trolling of first time MPs and popular film stars from West Bengal, the young Mimi Chakraborty and Nusrat Jahan for their choice of clothing is the common tale of sexist attitudes and the way women are judged on various issues ranging from looks to demeanour to clothing by all and sundry on social media.
Their reply that people are more worried about the clothes of women MPs than the criminal antecedents of corrupt people, rightly answer self appointed guardians of society who revel in sexist comments emerging out of gender prejudice.
Women members of parliament form the nook and corner of the country are truly outstanding and worth admiration for simply being where they are.