The women MLAs of Kerala unanimously state that the goal of women empowerment is yet to be achieved even though Kerala has made much social progress.
They were addressing a webinar, ‘A Pro-woman Agenda for a New Kerala’, for women MLA designates, organized by Malayala Manorama.
Here is what the MLA designates had to say on woman empowerment:
K K Shailaja: No attempts were made to bring the women into the mainstream as the capitalist culture reflected in the governance too. This should be viewed critically. The existence of feudal notions even today also relegates women to the back row. In India, it is an amalgamation of these two. The government of a state in such a country has a lot of limitations to act progressively.
C K Asha: Unemployment among women still continues to be a problem. Have envisaged steps in the constituency to address this. But several women are unable to come forward as they lack support from their own households. Even the educated are part of this.
Veena George: Women were actively involved in the rehabilitation efforts after the massive floods. Women took part in various activities from distribution of medicines to cleaning up wells. However, the women were mostly missing in action during the rescue operations. During this pandemic now, the women are actively involved in efforts in the lower rungs of society.
K K Rema: It is doubtful whether the women or transgender community are given due consideration in matters such as equal status in family and society, proportional representation in constituencies, non-discriminatory approach to service and pay terms, able to live in a fearless environment and getting proper law enforcement assistance during instances of sexual assault and domestic violence.
Kanathil Jameela: During the time of elections, promises of implementing women's reservation are made. However, those Bills do not see the light of the day. Male leaders themselves are tearing up those Bills.
K Shanthakumari: Employment is the major factor that determines a woman's individuality. Employment opportunities, that uphold the dignity of women, should be ensured. Each constituency should have initiatives such as Apparel Park that provide jobs to women.
Professor R Bindu: Women essentially need to be financially self-sufficient. If that alone happens, they would be able to face the problems. With some women achieving this, more and more would enter the public sphere. It is also imperative to have job-training programmes and a centralised sales system.
Daleema Jojo: The misery of women, working for meagre incomes, will not end even if personal benefits are given. Projects are needed for a permanent solution.
J Chinchu Rani: There are several women who are not doing anything significant despite being well-educated. The opportunities or systems for this does not fully reach them. The objective should be the social upliftment of women, who are chained to their households.
O S Ambika: If my husband had asked me not to join politics, I probably would not have been able to do so. Proper awareness is needed to address this. A section of women who did not take part in any political programmes, became actively involved after I became the panchayat president. Several women came forward, while saying that "Ambika chechi is going, so we should also go."