“Women want to work towards positive politics,” says Razia Patel, who heads the minority education cell of the Indian Institute of Education. Patel, along with others, has set up a minority women’s constitutional rights forum (Muslim Mahila Sanvidhan Hakka Parishad) that aims to raise practical issues and set a development agenda.
“Religious minority groups are just engaged and engulfed in the religious politics and their issues are being used for vested interests… The latest example is current politics of a very sensitive issue of oral talaq, which is a real issue but wrongly caught in politics. On the other hand, real issues of the community, such as education, employment, security and empowerment for women, and human and citizenship rights are not getting addressed by policy makers in an effective way,” Patel told The Indian Express.
The forum was set up after the Indian Institute of Education conducted a two-day national workshop for women from minority groups on ‘leadership development and constitutional rights’ on January 3 and 4. “Very few women rise to leadership positions and more so it applies for women from the marginalised sections. The forum feels that these issues can be resolved within the constitutional framework alone with an awareness about the constitutional rights,” said Patel.
Likes of Prof Sabiha Hussain from the Sarojini Naidu Centre for Women’s Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, who feels there is a tremendous challenge before Muslim women regarding their leadership development, Hasina Khan, who has been working on the talaq issue, Mumtaz Shaikh, another activist, Jamila Begum from Mumbai, who has been working on ‘Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao aandolan’, and Prof Qudsia Anjum from Saharanpur have come together to set up a new platform.
Dr Sharad Javdekar, joint member secretary of the Indian Institute of Education, said that efforts to push women behind were being made by vested interests. “There is an environment of communal hatred being perpetrated consciously and there is also an effort to use educational curriculum for same. The schemes for minority development remain on paper and women need to be vigilant against these and develop their leadership with political consciousness. This cannot happen with an NGO-centric approach only,” Javdekar said during the workshop.
Nirmal Bhakare, an activist working on issues of Dalit Christian women, and social activist Vidya Bal also participated in the workshop. Bal said that “religious fanaticism has made women’s issues more complicated” and accordingly “new challenges have come up”.
‘10 per cent quota an election gimmick’
“There is an increasing poverty and unemployment in the country… It is the result of faulty policies and lack of proper development model. It calls for overall changes in economic policies in favour of deprived people like farmers and jobless youth. Just providing 10 per cent reservation is an election gimmick and will not provide any relief to anyone. It is yet another jumla,” said Patel.