Staff Reporter

KCBC Women’s Commission releases gender policy

KOCHI: Women and Church members must not consider politics taboo. Instead, they must take an active role in it. Only then can they make a positive intervention in politics and make things better, speakers at a public meeting held here on Saturday in connection with the State-level meeting of the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council’s (KCBC) Women’s Commission said.

‘Sustained support’

They also spoke of how talented and service-oriented women need to be nurtured and given sustained support, so that they are able to prove themselves in politics. Enacting laws for women’s empowerment is not enough. There has to be a change in the societal mindset. The event also saw the release of the KCBC’s ‘gender policy’, which speaks of giving women more say in Church and related matters.

“The sarcastic indifference towards politics must end,” said T.K. Jose, managing director of the Roads and Bridges Development Corporation of Kerala, in his special address on ‘Importance of women’s participation in the political arena’. “From elections held to grama sabhas to the Lok Sabha, women need better representation and a bigger role in decision-making.

It is noteworthy that with the passage of time, there is a decrease in the opposition to women representatives. But their hands are tied in many local bodies, including in many civic bodies in Ernakulam district. Things would get better once women are extended 50 per cent reservation in the place of the existing one-third reservation.”

Voting percentage

The middle class often treats politicians with contempt. In many States, the voting percentage is so low that those who get less than a quarter of the votes rise to power, Mr. Jose said.

“Having a job alone will not help women become financially empowered. They must be able to handle their finances better.

The plight of women in many parts of the State is on par with that of their counterparts in States where the standard of life is lesser. But Kerala has an edge in gender equality and women’s empowerment. The Catholic Church too must give women a better share in its institutions.”

Gender roles

In his keynote address, the vice-chairman of the Commission, Bishop Varghese Chakkalackal, said that both men and women have specific gender roles, socially and culturally.

“Men and women are two faces of God. Educating women will bring about a change for the better. There has to be a paradigm shift in the way of thinking. Women and neglected sections of society must stop blaming fate for the injustice done against them. They must question exploitation and stop suffering in silence.”

Women can get on par with men or even better, through attitudinal change. Dressing like men is not the answer. They must not become slaves of a situation, said the Commission’s chairman Mar Mathew Anikkuzhikattil. As mothers and teachers, women play a vital role in ensuring that societal values are not trampled on, he said.