Panel discussions

Women in Politics

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Madras Management Association (MMA) in collaboration with Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) presented a panel discussion on the theme, “Women in Politics” through webinar on 18 June 2020. ORF and NGPL were the event partners. The distinguished speakers on the panel were:

  • Ms Kavitha D Chitturi, Joint Managing Director, The KCP Limited
  • Mr Peter Rimmele, Resident Representative to India of KAS
  • Ms Kushbhu Sundar, Spokesperson, Indian National Congress
  • Ms Nupur Sharma, National Spokesperson, Bharatiya Janata Party
  • Ms Rehana Ameer, Elected Member of Common Council, City of London Corporation
  • Ms Lakshmy Ramakrishnan, Actor, Film-Maker and Activist

Group Captain R Vijayakumar, Executive Director, MMA introduced all the speakers. Ms Kavitha Chitturi delivered the welcome address. Mr Peter Rimmele of KAS delivered the introductory remarks, in which he spoke about the rise of women in politics in Germany and Europe and the challenges they face. He emphasised that the society has a strong responsibility to support women in politics.

Ms Lakshmy Ramakrishnan, moderated the panel discussion. She eloquently summed up women power: “When women lead, the virus loses,” drawing reference to a recent article that detailed out how women leaders from Germany to Kerala have delivered efficient, effective and empathetic responses to the pandemic. “The reasons for their stellar show are easy to comprehend,” she said. “Women are natural care givers, open to expert opinions and team players.”

Ms Kushbu Sundar of Congress said that a series of cases filed by people in 2005, to vilify her for an opinion she expressed, provoked her to join politics. She said she single-handedly fought the cases. After the Supreme Court ruled in her favour, she joined the DMK party. She wondered if a person like her with a successful record in film industry and having a solid platform could be rattled by political parties, then what will be the plight of lesser mortals. She decided to raise her voice for women by joining politics.
She praised the role of late DMK leader Mr Karunanidhi in mentoring her. She did not regret leaving DMK later on, to join the Congress party. She said that women politicians have to be courageous and need the support system from their families. Education, according to her, is not a bar. “Do not give more than two terms to any politician,” she suggested and batted for more youngsters in politics and 50% reservation for women in parliament, to promote gender equality.

Ms Nupur Sharma of BJP said she was 23 when she joined politics. “It was my calling,” she said. Finding it tough to balance her lucrative profession and her role in BJP legal cell, she gave up her Supreme Court practice and became a full-time politician. Nupur acknow-ledged that the late BJP leader Sushma Swaraj inspired her for her people skills and memory. “To be in politics, one has to have a good education and make oneself known,” Nupur said. She pleaded for domain experts in bureaucracy and for restructuring the UPSC system. “Talk less, do more,” was her counsel to aspiring politicians.

Ms Rehana Ameer of London Corporation said that though she hails from a traditional background, her parents gave her good education and plenty of freedom. “Instead of becoming somebody, I wanted to do something and give back to the society. I wanted to break the stereotype while retaining my individuality and conviction. That’s how I took my plunge into politics in 2016,” she said and added, “Democracy is a way of correcting historic wrongs.” She acknowledged that the ecosystem in London recognises individual talents and competencies.

She suggested that men in power should have adequate data before framing policies concerning women. She advised young women, “Be who you are; be accountable to the environment. Take things as they come along.” Summing up, the moderator Ms Lakshmy Ramakrishnan brought out the commonality in all the three panellists—of finding their calling in politics, to be the change agent, the urge to give back to the society, never to give up and to promote diversity. She concluded that the right time for women to enter politics is—NOW.