Though a third of 150 corporators in GHMC are women, it is their men who are at the helm of affairs
We know not whether the proposed Women's Reservation Bill, if it is passed by the Lok Sabha, would result in empowerment of women in real terms. If implementation of the same at the GHMC level—a microcosmic testing ground—is anything to go by, one has no reason to cheer about.
Though a third of the 150 corporators in the newly elected GHMC are women, it is their men who are at the helm of the affairs most of the time.
The autonomy of woman corporators, many of them wives of ex-corporators, is so curbed that they are not even allowed to receive their official calls.
It is always their respective husbands or male members in the family who answer the call. Of about 20 calls to the mobile numbers of the woman corporators chosen at random, 18 were answered by males.
A wish expressed to speak to the corporator might receive a grunt, followed by a grumpy voice demanding to know what the matter is.
Insistent plea for a word with the corporator will beget the information that the mister is outside, and the corporator is at home looking after household affairs.
“I do the dealings on behalf of my wife. Please tell me what it is,” demands one husband, rather naïve in his approach.
In a few cases, the spouse impersonates the corporator in public sphere too, with knowing silence from the officials concerned.
“Recently I met a gentleman who introduced himself as the corporator of the division.
Surrounded by a posse of officials, this gentleman was monitoring the ongoing works in the colony. Not until I wondered aloud if the ward was not reserved for women, did he reveal that he was husband of the women corporator in that ward,” says a resident staying in limits of Mansurabad in t he city .
Nevertheless, a few woman corporators in the GHMC limits stood out as exceptions in receiving their own calls and focusing on the issues of their divisions.
Most of them, however, are second-time elects.
A majority of the incumbent woman corporators will not be able to contest the elections next time round due to the rotation of reserved constituencies.
In effect, it transpires that the one-third quota has not really harmed the patriarchal citadels built diligently over the centuries.
“Woman corporators should be offered training in the fulfilment of their responsibilities. Earlier, when we conducted a training camp for woman councillors in districts, there was good response and improvement too,” says Mazhar Hussain, the Director of the Confederation of Voluntary Associations (COVA).