It's unofficially official that women are given the 'No Entry' sign to politics. “We've come to a stage when we have to deliberately shoo away that sign and step over it”, says Kayamkulam MLA U Prathibha.
The people's representative was addressing students at the programme “Pennayirikkunathinte Anaandam” by Malayala Manorama in connection with Women's Day celebrations.
Women should come out and be a part of the political milieu. It may pose difficulties, which one may encounter anywhere. But women have to surmount obstacles and emerge from them”, she said. The trademark “paavam” label women are branded with has to go. That a woman “can” is the truth that’s to be promoted. But things will become possible only if women themselves come into the open, shed their diffidence and forge ahead with self-confidence, said the MLA.
“The biggest question of the era seems to have been the issue of women at Sabarimala. Let all those who are determined to make it to the shrine go armed with the Supreme Court order. But how can that be the core issue of women’s empowerment here? Here’s where we lose focus when such issues are taken up and discussed for hours on end. On the one hand we have believers ready to flay others and on the other, non-believers ready to hurl stones at them. In the melee, the focus on cardinal issues is lost. Worrying problems like poverty and starvation are forgotten. Nobody thinks or cares for the innumerable girls who live in penury.
“We trade words on Facebook for a couple of days and on the next, forget all of them and log off. This is the true face of women’s empowerment here”, said Prathibha.
The core of women’s issues is not addressed. We’ve had case after case of abuse with a lot of discussions around them. But for those girls being called “Kiliroor” or “Kaviyoor”, how many got justice? It’s pertinent to ask ourselves how to many of those abused girls' justice was meted out, she added.
“Society should have the courage to be with the woman who was denied justice. At least Generation Today should have that conviction”, she said.
It’s no cakewalk for a woman in politics. She has to cross hurdles and face challenges aplenty. When a woman wins an election, the credit goes to a factor called luck. That’s where it hurts the most. It’s sad when people seldom see or realize the mental and physical tribulations a woman faces while contesting an election, she says.
“We worked for 53 days for the Assembly polls, met up to 2 lakh voters, went down to all of them … that was the experience of a lifetime”, added Prathibha.
At 22 she was member of a panchayat, and a student too. The biggest challenge before her then was to prove her worth as a woman.
“There are countless girls who wail over the status of their birth, at their misfortune in being women. This is because of the control exerted over them at home. Even to this day women are up to challenges everywhere. We live in a country where dowry is legally banned. Yet, we all know what a burden it is to get a girl married, of the heavy financial commitment involved. It’s people’s attitude that has to change”, she said.
“There’s not a family devoid of problems. But my family has never viewed issues as problems. It’s with the world outside that I’ve had to fight, to face challenges, quite often through cyber attacks.”