Cabinet, bureaucracy in Mehbooba-led govt dominated by men
NEW DELHI, INDIA - NOVEMBER 28: Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister and President of the Jammu Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party Mehbooba Mufti Sayeed arrive at parliament house during the Parliament Winter session on November 28, 2016 in New Delhi, India. The nationwide bandh called by opposition parties in protest against the demonetisation of high-value currency notes by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government seems to have had little impact on south Indian states, except in Kerala. Shops are open and vehicles are running as usual in Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, among other big cities in the region. (Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Srinagar, Feb 09: A state headed by woman chief minister has low presence of women in the bureaucracy as well as in the legislation. Besides Mehbooba Mufti, who is Chief Minister of the state, there are only two female ministers in her 25 member cabinet. While all political parties promised about 33 per cent reservation to women in their manifestos, only two of the 30 women who contested election made it to the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly. In the last Assembly election, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Aesia Naqash made her maiden entry into the State Assembly by winning from Hazratbal constituency, and defeated her nearest rival NC’s Mohammad Sayeed Akhoon. Two more women—PriyaSethi and Anjum Fazli—were nominated to the Assembly by BJP and PDP, respectively. Currently, Aesia Naqash is the Minister of State for Housing & Urban Development, Social welfare, Health & Medical Education, Power Development and Industries & Commerce, while PriyaSethi is the Minister of State for Education, Technical Education, Culture, Tourism, Department of Horticulture, Floriculture and Parks. National Conference (NC) had fielded five female candidates two from Kashmir and three from Jammu, while only Habba Kadal candidate Shamima Firdous won, or retained, the seat. “Females are getting less chance in the legislation, which is mainly male dominated. Everyone considers politics men’s field, so females are not given chances,” said Shameema Firdous, Senior National Conference Legislator and MLA Habba Kadal. “Some females do want to go into the legislation, but they are not given equal status.” She said that legislation is mainly male dominated. “If independent female candidate want to win any constituency, but they always have a fear whether any political party would include her in their list or not,” she said. “All political parties should give equal opportunity to women in decision making, working in the field, interacting with the people, and serving them.” According to the figures available at General Administrative Department (GAD), there are only 83 female KAS and IAS officers in the state. Out of 520 male KAS officers, there are only 75 females and out 77 IAS male officers, the number of women IAS officers is around eight. The women of J&K constitute around 50 per cent of the state’s electorate, however only three per cent of women candidates were allotted tickets in Jammu and Kashmir Assembly polls in 2014 by all political parties. BhartiyaJanta Party (BJP) had given mandate to three female candidates in the Valley, who all lost the elections with a huge margin. It had fielded Hina Bhat from Amira Kadal, NeelamGaash from Zadibal and Daraksha Andrabi from Sonawar constituency. KhemLataWakhloo of Congress also had contested from Srinagar’s Sonawar constituency and Shameema Raina, a long term Mahila Congress leader, had been fielded from Zadibal constituency, but they lost their seats. From Handwara constituency, one female contestant HaneefaBano had contested as an independent candidate. In Jammu, ShamshadBano of NC contested from GoolArnas, Pushpa Devi of Samajwadi Party from Chenani and two other candidates Meenakshi Sharma and Rano Devi lost, who had fought as independent candidates from Reasi. The Congress had given mandate to SumanBhagat who lost from RS Pura seat. Earlier, in 2016, Mehbooba Mufti declared women empowerment as one of the top agendas of her government. “If you empower a girl or a woman, you are empowering the entire nation,” she had said in 2016. Yet, women’s participation and involvement in different sectors is less as compared to men. Iram Nazir, who qualified KAS exams in 2011, said that girls were given less chance due to the “conservative mindset” of the society. “Some girls want to get into the administration, but their parents do not allow them. They think that some fields are only meant for male folk,” he said. “In fact when women are opting administrative fields, they are not given strong posts because they are still considered as weak links.” The woman KAS officers, however, believe that the scenario is changing. “Initially in 2009, less number of women was in the KAS list, but the number slowly increased steadily. I hope more women will show participation and appear in the administrative field,” said Shaziya, who is Assistant Director Tourism.