Where are the Muslim women in Indian Politics?

    • Waseem Ahmad – Student, Kautilya 2021-23

5 of the 16 Lok Sabhas since independence did not have any Muslim women members. Only 21 Muslim women have been elected to Loksabha till 2014. Till 2010 only 15 Muslim women entered the Rajya Sabha. The patriarchal structure of our society has been one of the major reasons why not just muslim women, but women from all over the country have had this dismal participation rate in politics. This trend continues in the private sector as well…

How will they break the glass ceiling if we continue to build walls of patriarchy around them?

For those asking what would change if there was a representation of Muslim women. I have an interesting proposition for you all. For a moment, let’s go back to 1986. Yes, that’s right, I am talking about the Shah Bano amendment to the Muslim personal law by Rajiv Gandhi’sgovernment.

Imagine having empowered Muslim women in parliament during that time who could have raised their voice, stood their ground, spoke for their rights, and taken up their issue with the government, who probably would have countered the government narrative. Maybe just maybe, that historical blunder could have been averted.

This episode has constantly reminded me of the importance of having representation and diversity at policy-making places, whether in politics, bureaucracy or even in the boardrooms of multinational corporations. One of the main reasons for pursuing public policy at Kautilya has been to learn & understand how we can empower people from marginalized communities, especially women, to get a seat at that decision-making table.

During the stellar orientation week we had at Kautilya, Mr. Asaduddin Owaisi was one of our several prominent guests. So, When I got a chance to ask a question to Mr. Owaisi, I asked him about the lack of visible women leadership in his party. He said his party has women corporators in many places. More importantly, he also agreed that this is an issue which they are working on as a party & that there is a lot more that needs to be done. I appreciate his honesty” because sometimes all you want from leaders is that they own up to their mistakes.
I am looking forward to a day when a lady will represent the AIMIM as their spokeswoman on a national prime time debate and will probably lock horns with our warrior anchors. Again this can’t just be about one single party; all parties across the spectrum should encourage more Muslim women.

As Kaifi Azmi says in his legendary poem Aurat
“Qadr ab tak teri tarriikh ne jaanii hii nahii,
tujh mein shole bhii hain bas ashkfishaanii hi nahi”
meaning “History has not known your worth thus far,
You have burning embers, too, not merely tears.”

We need to look beyond the image of stereotypical Muslim women in need of a saviour and truly strive to empower them and give them the space they deserve.

Lest we forget, this is the land of Rani Jhansi and Razia Sultan.

*The Kautilya School of Public Policy (KSPP) takes no institutional positions. The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the views or positions of KSPP.