Recognising the prevailing patriarchy in Indian democracy and society at large, a panel speaking on the topic of ‘Women in Public Policy’ today highlighted the need for equal inclusion of women.

The discussion, which was held as part of the ‘She Leads India’ conference by UN Women in partnership with SheThePeople.TV, was attended by Aam Aadmi Party member Ankit Lal, lawyer Karuna Nundy, BJP member Nupur Sharma, and Nishtha Satyam of UN Women.

Speaking on topics ranging from patriarchy in democracy to women in politics among other issues, Nundy said that to address patriarchy in the system, which has “become a norm”, an overhaul of the recruitment process is needed.

“You need to have a recruitment criterion and it is definitely not just about how women are recruited, it should apply to how men are recruited too in order to further the constitutional values of gender equality,” Nundy said. She also addressed a need for policy change to address inequality at workplace along with the existing anti-sexual harassment teams.

“Most companies today have anti-sexual harassment teams, but what they don’t have is a policy to address inequality.
“If a man tells me ‘You are dumb because you are a woman. And I won’t promote you’, there is nothing I can do because there is no redressal system for such cases,” the lawyer said.

While agreeing to the presence of “a conscious debate” happening in the country, Nundy also said that behavioural changes at individual level are also needed to support the debate.
“Even though we have a great conversation happening on the issue. There has to be a behavioural change. Until men, women, mothers-in-laws, families, and everyone is not saying ‘go out to work, it’s ok’, it is impossible to achieve an equal inclusion of women,” Nundy said.

Lal echoed Nundy’s statement while pointing out that the problem is not linear, as it is coming from “multiple sources” and thus it needs to be addressed at a wider level.

“We need to understand that it is not something linear. The change has to come from the society, with the help of laws and whatever means necessary. It has to come from within the organisation and people from outside. It cannot happen just by one change or one law in place,” Lal said.
Sharma and Satyam also recognised the need for change in the way “we think about ourselves” to increase participation of women at work and in the society.
“You have to change the way you think about yourself. Patriarchy is all in the mind. If I take my own example, I am in the politics because of the support from my father, a man. It begins at home. It is all about how you look at it. Change that and nothing can stop you,” Sharma said.