Shaila Hoq Tanju:
Usually power means the ability of doing an act, but in social science or political science power enables to take control over mass people behavior, thinking process, decision making factors. To depict a picture of women’s condition in South Asia regarding power and politics is complicated, for women acquiring and exercising power through politics is not confined only in social and community level, it enables women to take decision in their everyday struggle.
Power for women gives them authority to make decision over controversial topics from their childhood to adult life in every sphere of life. For example, one may want to study in Mechanical Engineering, but in South Asia, from study discipline to foods- all are tagged from gender perspective. Some are subject are tagged as women friendly subjects, like Medical Science, English literature, computer science etc, as girls of these discipline enjoy privilege in matrimony market. So a girl has to struggle even to choose her discipline of study, sometimes they can’t even gain enough courage raise their voice for their wishes, it ranges from taking decision about marriage to silly matter of wearing dress even. Usually women ask for help from mom, aunty or brother to talk in favor of her decision. It shows the status of power exercise of a woman in her personal life, and it continues from interpersonal level in family to social, work and every sphere of life.
We saw the instance of honor killing in Pakistan even in recent times, a model and social media celebrity who asked for security from government were killed by her family members, and it’s still taking place frequently in many provinces of India by the name of cast, religion and family honor. So when it’s the average picture of women and their power exercise-now how to relate it with politics, economics, education and culture of this region-what is more important for empowering women? Proper education, skilled women, economical independence, changing social culture, women friendly political environment or more active participation in politics by women- all these are intermingled and co-related.
Proper education make women conscious about their political and human rights; technical knowledge make them economically solvent which encourage them to raise their voice to live their life according their wishes, and a cultural women friendly political and work environment ensure the security and comfort zone for a woman, and you can’t attain anything till you will take part in politics. To represent women and fight for their right and equity in society and family, women need to be more active in politics from elementary level like local government to tertiary level like in parliament. And it should come by proper practice of politics, like a representative should have experience of political activities, studies and interactions with people of her area; they should not be nominated by elected parliament members.
In this patriarchal society, in every part of a woman’s life, the power game is being played very subtly and sometime brutally by community, neighborhood, relatives, religious leaders by names of age old norms , values, religion and gender issues in even taking decision of motherhood. But we are not used to think it as the part of politics, for us politics is a science or art to run a government and for mass people a power gaining process , a symbol which represent some particular ideologies and faith, an election process where female are nothing but mere voters, still governments of this region can’t make any Unicode family law or equal right in property.
Yet we experience a remarkable high trend in female education in many different discipline, continuous increased number of female workers in every sector, it is really playing a significant role in politics.
The writer is currently pursuing her Masters at Victoria University.