Women’s issues may be high on the agenda for political parties vying for votes in India’s mammoth general election, but few female lawmakers will get an opportunity to implement the policies being proposed.
Less than a fifth of the candidates standing for the front-running main opposition group, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), or the ruling Congress, are women, according to an analysis.
In the current parliament, women hold only 11% of seats in both houses, less than Pakistan at 21% and Afghanistan at 28%, research by the Inter-Parliamentary Union group shows.
“Suddenly it’s women this and women that... but it all fades after elections,” said Rachita Shah, a 28-year-old graphic web designer.
“It’s nice to hear, but it would be better if we could actually see these ‘measures for women’s empowerment’,” she said, mockingly using air quotes while shopping at a busy Delhi flea market.
Politicians are going all out to win over women - earlier seen as wallflowers - with “empowerment,” a recurrent theme 16 months after the fatal gang-rape of a student on a bus in New Delhi rocked the nation.