It is time for women’s issues to be factored into party agendas, says the Voice of 49 manifesto

She is a mother, a daughter, a wife, a sister and a myriad other avatars. She is a woman who has been equated with deities since time immemorial. She also forms 49 per cent of the world’s largest democracy. But how often do we see women participating in deciding the country’s future by electing a responsible candidate? Are they aware of their power to vote? Also, what are the day to day problems that they go through in their lives?

These were some vital questions raised as Tata Global Beverages and the Tata Group launched a 10-point ‘Voice of 49%’ women’s manifesto at New Delhi on Friday, which aggregated serious concerns raised by over 1.7 million women from across India via multiple communication platforms.

These concerns include domestic violence (21.1 per cent), public safety (21.7 per cent), education and employment (19.9 per cent), inflation (18 per cent), health and sanitation (6.3 per cent and others (12 per cent). Experts have collated these suggestions and politicians will soon be invited to debate these issues in a televised debate. Emphasising the overwhelming response of the initiative, Mukund Rajan, brand custodian, Tata Sons, said that the ‘Power of 49’ campaign got these 1.7 million responses through missed calls and digital media.

Not just concerns were raised, even solutions were suggested in the manifesto. Like increasing the percentage of women police personnel from the present 5 per cent to at least 33 per cent, and that politicians must lead by example by displaying zero tolerance for perpetrators of domestic abuse and dowry in political parties. The manifesto, as Rajan pointed out, represents an opportunity for Indian women to cast informed votes for candidates who address their issues and at the same time gets political parties to see women as a determining factor in elections.

Along with the widespread “Jaago Re” and “Bahu Nahi Bahumat” adverts on television, the ‘Power of 49’ campaign aims to show women that their vote counts. Tata Global Beverages has been running advertising campaigns to encourage the public to cast their vote with the “Jaago Re” campaign since 2007. This year, however, women across India were asked about the biggest issues for them today.

“The objective of the campaign was to create a large number of educated women voters with a view that an informed female electorate will propel political leaders to include their issues in the agenda in the forthcoming election,” said Vikram Grover, vice president of marketing for India and south Asia, Tata Global Beverages.

It is rightly said that the economic wealth of a country is depleted if about half of the nation’s human resource is neglected. It is time we realise that the Aam Aurat too plays a pivotal role in the overall progress of our country.



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