After the expansion and reshuffling exercise this month, Pashupati Paras was given the Food Processing Industries portfolio as cabinet minister while Smriti Irani was made to resign from the textile industry and remain content with the department of Women and Child Development.
Women and Child development and social welfare ministries seem generally earmarked for women. West Bengal, a state with the only woman chief minister, does not fare any better. Besides Mamata Banerjee, the only cabinet minister in the state is Dr. Shashi Panja, who, well, holds the portfolio of Women and Child Development. Other TMC MLAs like Chandrima Bhattacharya and Ratna De Nag are Ministers of State.
The number of women in the cabinet has mattered little for women in the country. One of the most influential ministers, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman ignored multiple studies that indicated a disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women. The gender budget was cut to a mere 0.7% of the GDP in this financial year, a steep decline from 1% in the previous financial year.
Kerala sidelined KK Shailaja, who had been lauded for her handling of the pandemic as the health minister. Reasons cited for keeping her out of the state ministry have not been convincing. It seemed to be a case of being damned if you perform and damned if you don’t.
For women there is clearly little to rejoice. No matter the state, party or ideology, women continue to be coldshouldered by male-dominated politics in the country
Leave a Reply