A few weeks ago I was in India visiting ActionAid projects. It was just one week before the elections and India was in full campaigning mode, with posters for the different parties everywhere, wall to wall TV coverage and election talk everywhere I went – from the slums of Nangloi to the coffee shops of Khan Market.
The voting takes place over six weeks, ending on 12 May, with votes being counted on 16 May. Today (Thursday) is the fifth day of voting and the biggest day of all, with people in 121 constituencies casting their votes.
ActionAid in India is non-partisan and does not endorse any of the parties or candidates running for election. But what we do care about are the poorest and most excluded communities, including women, and one of the issues closest to our hearts is violence against women.
ActionAid believes the root causes of violence against women stem from inequality and works to promote greater economic and social equality, employment and property rights.
Long live daughters!
In August 2013, ActionAid India launched a nationwide campaign, Beti Zindabad (Long Live Daughters) to raise awareness of and put a stop to practices of sex-determination and selection, female foeticide, early marriage and other forms of violence against women and girls. Because sons are valued so much more than daughters, women are forced into aborting baby girls before they are born, resulting in a shocking ratio of just 919 girls per thousand boys in India.
In addition following the public outcry after the brutal gang rape of the woman known as Nirbhaya in Delhi in December 2012, the political parties and police promised that action would be taken to ensure the safety of women and girls - but not enough has been done.
The election womanifesto
ActionAid is supporting a “womanifesto” set out by women’s groups from across India - a six-point plan which sets out what needs to be done by the next government in the next five years to improve conditions for India's women and girls.
The six points are:
- educate for equality
- make laws count
- put women in power
- appoint police for the people
- enact swift, certain justice
- ensure a flourishing economy