Women got a raw deal once again in Kerala politics with just seven female aspirants getting elected to the state Assembly, the same as the last time.
The outcome has strengthened a general belief that Kerala is not yet free from “male-hegemony”, despite the state being projected as a role model for women empowerment.
The first Kerala Assembly in 1957 had six women members, when politics was dominated by men in most parts of India.
Out of the seven elected women this time around, the ruling UDF has just one representative, Congress’ P Jayalakshmi, who was part of the list drawn up by AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi. Jayalakshmi, elected from Manathawadi (ST) segment in Wayanad district, is among the ministerial probables as the only woman member on the ruling side.
According to T N Seema, Rajya Sabha member and leader of CPI-M’s women wing AIDWA, it can’t be glossed over that generally there is an “anti-women” attitude in all spheres in Kerala.
“As in other fields, male-hegemony is deep-rooted in politics also. No party is free from this,” Seema told PTI.
Women empowerment has gained some momentum at the local bodies level where 50 per cent of the seats are reserved for women.
But women who excel in politics and governance are not allowed to go beyond a certain level by the male-dominated leadership of major parties, she said.
The six women MLAs of the LDF are K K Lathika, P Ayisha Potty and K S Saleekha, all from the CPI-M; E S Bijimol, Geetha Gopi from the CPI; Jameela Prakasam of the JD(S).
Geetha Gopi, Jameela Prakasam and Jayalakshmi are first-time MLAs while the other four are into their second stint as legislators.
A total of 78 women candidates including Independents tried their luck at the hustings.
While the LDF fielded 14 women candidates, including 10 from CPI-M, three CPI and one JD (S), the UDF offered seats to 8 and the BJP fielded 14 women.
However, UDF partners like the IUML and the Kerala Congress (M) did not field any woman candidate.
Prominent women who fell by the wayside include 92-year old Gowri Amma of JSS, a component of the UDF, in Cherthala in Alappuzha district.
The grand old lady of Kerala politics and once firebrand Communist, Gowri Amma has been part of most of the Communist ministries from 1957 to 2006. She left the CPI-M in the 1990s and floated JSS.