Ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, to put forward what women as a community feel and want, Penn Thozhilalar Sangam and Prajnya community wrote an open letter to this year’s LS candidates.

Here are some of the important takeaways from their letter:

  • They have shared their concerns as the citizens of India with those who would be representing us in the near future.
  • They have deplored the gradual transformation of our democracy to a political culture in which asking questions is anti-national.
  • They have also urged for a commitment to gender equality. Saying they want a commitment that “in making policy, you will recognise gendered vulnerability; resilience and agency; and that your work will be informed by women’s and minority narratives.”
  • They said that we need parity in nominations and appointments, zero tolerance for misogynistic approaches, gender transformative rather than gender driven stereotypical manifestos, etc.

Read the full letter here: AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CANDIDATES IN THE 2019 LOK SABHA ELECTION

SheThePeople.Tv asked Penn Thozhilalar Sangam and Prajnya teams why they felt the need to write this open letter. Here is what they have to say:

Women at the local level also need to be heard

Swarna Rajagopalan, Founding trustee of The Prajnya Trust says, “We’ve been working with women for a while now, women whose voices aren’t amplified. The voices that do get amplified are those of the women at the Delhi level, it is the women at the local level who also need to be heard. We drafted this before the Women’s March based on previously held consultations around workplace rights and local, civic issues. It also draws on our Gender Equality Election Checklist.

The voices that do get amplified are those of the women at the Delhi level, it is the women at the local level who also need to be heard.

After the Women’s March, we felt the need to cull what we had been hearing these women say, to project their concerns and issues to a larger platform. We did have women’s trade unions take part in the march which is why in this you do find that workplace and livelihood issues find a strong mention.”

“Ordinary women often don’t find the space or the platform to talk about issues the country is facing that they may be concerned about. They are also so caught up in their everyday struggles to even think about putting this out formally. We worked with four women’s organisations, and wherever we read out the draft to the women, we found it resonated with them, they felt strongly about the issues mentioned. And this was how this open letter fell into place,” adds Rajagopalan.

Open letter is a reminder to the voters

Sujata Mody, President of Penn Thozhilalargal Sangam or women workers union says, “Looking at all the activity  ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, we could see that the politic parties had not made an effort to address any of the women’s issues. Our open letter is aimed at candidates, but also a reminder to the voters. In the last few years we have seen the absolute immunity that rich, powerful and those with political backing have. The assault, mutilation and murder of Kathua shook the nation’s conscience. Kathua is just one such case, where politics is being played out over female bodies.”

This open letter is with an expectation that some of the candidates would read it, and work for women’s causes.

“In Chennai more than one lakh women have been evicted from their homes, they have lost their jobs, could not get to a hospital or had to drop out of school or college. This does not make news, it’s all normal.  This open letter is with an expectation that some of the candidates would read it, and work for women’s causes. I hope women can expect greater freedom, be able to speak out and live with dignity.  Not only I, but several hundred women from all walks of life, especially domestic workers and informal workers in Chennai have participated in discussing this statement,” adds Sujata Mody

Read More:Why Indian elections remain a male bastion, even as women raise the pitch

Anushika Srivastava is an Intern with SheThePeople.Tv

Email us at connect@shethepeople.tv