What generally attracts a woman to go for voting? Hoping for better policies or thinking of a new women-centric change? What if we told you that one afternoon you go cast your vote and return with pink teddy bears? Will you be interested then?
This is what is happening in 40 select polling booths in Goa in order to attract more female voters. Amid circumstances when women voters feel left out for not having much exposure or benefits, countless female voters entered the Pink “women-only” polling booths and cast their vote today. And here’s the twist. Women who voted for the first time won pink teddy bears.
Wear pink and go to a pink voting booth in Goa, and you win a teddy bear on voting – that's a new strategy for polling in Goa – thoughts? pic.twitter.com/LQ5Cn5WSvn
— Shaili Chopra (@shailichopra) February 4, 2017
In a bid to encourage young voters in Goa Elections 2017, the polling stations are specially designed and decorated with pink balloons, pink table cloths, pink walls, even the polling officials flaunted pink clothes.
“The teddy bears were given to first time voters in 40 specially designed polling booths across Goa,” Chief Electoral Officer Kunal told IANS.
— India Today (@IndiaToday) February 4, 2017
While the motive should have been to make these women voters aware of the importance of casting votes, the gesture rapidly turned out be what in a simple terms we describe is “sexist”. While most of the women in Goa welcomed the novelty, some felt rather offended to receive such a sexist message.
“Pink balloons and pink posters with women’s empowerment messages at the booths are aimed at encouraging women to vote,” said officials, as NDTV reports.
— Jobo Kuruvilla (@jobokuruvilla) February 4, 2017
According to reports, the booths were guarded by women officers and security personnel clad in pink clothes, pretty obvious isn’t it?
“Generally, women security personnel go home at night but because this is women only booth, they have been specially asked to stay at night,” said a polling officer at a booth in Panjim.
— Colleen Braganza (@colleenbraganza) January 24, 2017
While the scheme is innovative (we ain’t denying that!), and it attracted some voters too, one can’t deny the fact that it sent a pretty sexist message. We at SheThePeople.TV asked a few women from different areas how they consider this event? Would they go to these polling booths if they were offered?
Kolkata based Ananya Ghosh said, “I think it is quite stereotypical to have a booth that is pink and give out teddy bears. That’s like saying grown women who can make the decision to vote are comparable to little girls. The intention was perhaps good — to include more women. But there must be other ways to do this.”
Delhite Myra Khan was totally critical of the move. “I feel the administration is trying really hard to get women voters’ attention, but their strategies seem old school and may not hit the right chord,” she replied. “I’m not sure how many 18-year-olds (the youngest of the voters) would be thrilled to get a teddy bear as a “gift” from the poll booth. This seems like a last-minute preparation to ask the young to vote, while the administration should have done an awareness campaign weeks ago to get their attention and educate them to make the right choice. Don’t give them lollipop please,” Myra said.
“I think it’s a little stupid. Not all women like pink! And I will go and cast my vote even without the coaxing,” said Glenda, a first-time voter, to NDTV.
“That is not why I’m going to go and vote!” Elizabeth, another first-timer, told NDTV. She admitted, however, that she is looking forward to her first election. “Yes, I like teddy bears, so I’m a little excited.”
More than 1,000 teddy bears were ordered by the election officials and over 32,000 first time voters are expected to cast their ballots in Saturday’s state assembly polls.
We believe the intention was good, but the stereotyping wasn’t. I mean c’mon, overly-pinky ambience or pink teddy bears are certainly not the reason women would go to vote, right?
Feature Image Credit: NDTV
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