Women outstrip men in Mizoram

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Yet no woman in assembly
By Sujit Chakraborty
, Dec 10 (IANS) No woman candidate was elected to the state assembly in Mizoram, but it is the only state in India where women voters have outnumbered men, officials said here Tuesday.

There has been no woman legislator in Mizoram for the whole of the past two decades.

In the Nov 25 assembly elections, among the 142 candidates in the field, women aspirants were only six (four percent) — nominated by various political parties. The results of the polls were declared Monday.

The Congress and the main opposition Mizo National Front (MNF) fielded one woman candidate each while three women contested on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket. One woman joined the fray as an Independent candidate.

Tlangthanmawii, who is also the state Congress women wing president, and Lalmalsawmi of the MNF were defeated by male candidates of rival political parties.

The BJP’s three women candidates got very least number of votes, while the lone woman Independent aspirant B. Sangkhumi, former president of the Mizo Hmeichhe Insuihkhawm Pawl (MHIP) or Mizo Women Federation, also suffered defeat.

The ruling Congress swept 33 of the 40 seats at stake (one seat more than in the previous house), leaving five seats to the opposition Mizo National Front (MNF) and one to Mizoram People’s Conference (MPC).

The result of the Lawngtlai East constituency was withheld due to erroneous electronic voting machines of a polling station. The Congress is in a lead position in the constituency.

“No woman was elected to the state assembly this time,” Mizoram Chief Electoral officer Ashwini Kumar told IANS.

“Congress and MNF’s women nominees were fielded against heavy weight candidates while the other parties who fielded women candidates have little political base in the state. Therefore, no women could get elected to the state assembly,” the CEO said.

Mizoram is the only state in India where in a total population of 1,091,014, women voters outnumbered men by 9,806 in the total electorate of 690,860.

In the previous assembly elections in 2008, ten women contested — fopur more than this year — but unsuccessfully.

That year, women voters outnumbered men voters by 6,644 and in the 2003 elections by 3,816.

Since Mizoram became a union territory in 1973 and a full-fledged state in 1987, there have been only three women legislators – Thanmawii (1978), K. Thansiamii (1979) and Lalhimpuii Hmar (1987). Among them, Lalhimpuii Hmar of the MNF was a minister in the government led by the late Laldenga in 1987.

The Women Welfare Front, constituted by women members of village councils across the state, has been actively spearheading the campaign for women candidates before the assembly polls.

“We made all-out efforts so that we see as many women candidates as possible in the Nov 25 assembly elections. We requested political parties to nominate as many women candidates as possible. We made appeal to the female voters to vote for the women contestants,” Women Welfare Front secretary Darhmingthangi told IANS.

“As much as we need women in our domestic affairs, we need them in the legislative system too,” she added.

“The Mizo society in pre-modern times was based on what is known as an extreme patriarchal society. This created ‘private’ and ‘public’ domain, where women were confined to the private sphere that further relegated their status in the social and religious life,” sociologist Subhankar Goswami told IANS.

“Women, therefore, had no opportunities to go beyond the scope of the ‘domestic sphere’ and it was only men who controlled and dominated the entire ‘public sphere’. They were not supposed to have any independent religious loyalty, but were required to follow the religion of their husbands.”

“Christianity, of course, is the harbinger of modernity as well as women’s liberation in Mizoram. The Christian missionaries are regarded as a symbol of modernisation that led to gradual changes in the conservative attitudes of men towards women,” he said.

(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at sujit.c@ians.in)

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