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Friday, 14 December 2012 12:00

The Municipal Council Elections – Women rise to the challenge

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Despite some hostilities here and there and the fact that only 44.91 % of voters had performed their civic duty, the Municipal Council Elections have kept its promises vis a vis women.
The results proclaimed show that a third of women have been elected. That is out of 90 councillors, 32 are women. More surprising is the fact that several wards voted for two women whilst five women topped the list in their respective wards. News on Sunday has gauged the feelings of some of the candidates.

The results are here and once again Mauritian women have confirmed that they have their place in politics. They can all be really proud of themselves as their courage and hard work have borne sweet fruits. Out of 65 female candidates (33 for PTr-PMSD, 32 for MSM-MMM) who contested the elections, 32 have been elected as councillors. It is a great victory, one can say, but it is definitely a firm step towards better representation of women in the Mauritian political landscape. Several wards have elected women at the top of the list. Amongst them, Rubina Jadoo-Jaunbocus in Ward No. 4 in Port Louis, Varmah Kamla Devi in Ward No. 2 Curepipe, Karen Foo Kune in Ward No. 3 of Beau-Bassin/ Rose-Hill, Shakuntala Boolell in Ward No. 2 of Quatres-Bornes and Ramchurn Devianee in Ward No.2 of Vacoas/Phoenix.

Most surprisingly, two women have been elected in same wards of the five districts. In Ward No. 4 in Port-Louis, Rubina Jadoo-Jaunbocus (MMM-MSM) and Bistoquet Martine (PTr-PMSD) were elected. In the same district, in ward No. 7, two candidates namely Tenermont Marie Christine and Adebiro Olujare Jenny (MMM-MSM) have been elected.

Quatre-Bornes is the district where women were mostly elected. Three of the five wards of the City of Flowers have elected two women each. Moreover it is in Quatres-Bornes that the greater number of women, that is 8, will be councillors. Conversely, it is in Vacoas/Phoenix that the smaller number of women, that is 5, have been elected. However, it is to be noted that in four wards in Port Louis and two in Vacoas/Phoenix, no female candidate has been elected.

Karen Foo Kune – Ward No.3, Beau-Bassin/Rose Hill
The youngest woman at the top of the list, Karen Foo Kune said that she was extremely happy. For her, it is not a matter of gender but the achievements of an individual due to his/her merit that is most important. She however pointed out that there must always be mutual respect among members of the municipal council regardless of gender. A former sports athlete who excelled in badminton, Karen revealed that she dedicates much time to social work.

“I started as an athlete and I later turned to social work. Social work opened my eyes and I wanted to do more for the needy people and children. And it is through politics that I want to do this now… A sports person does lots of personal sacrifice for not only himself/herself but for his/her country. For a politician it is the same,” she confides. Amongst her priorities as a young municipal councillor, are the well-being of children, the empowerment of the youth through sports, arts and leisure. As young adult, Karen encourages other youngsters to join politics.

Dorine Chukowry – Ward No. 1, Port Louis
For the candidate of Ward No. 1 in Port Louis, it’s a great pride to be elected as a woman. “It’s a real masterstroke for me. I must say that everything was done in pure calm. We as women we like things to be done in calm and respect of our opponents,” she said. This headmistress confided that she has been active in politics for five years. She found that politics is not reserved for men only and she exhorts more Mauritian women to embrace it. “However we as women we have lots of responsibilities at home.

The most important thing for a politician woman is to have the support of her husband, her children and her family. Alone, a woman won’t be able to achieve political success.” She trusts that the elections results, with 32 women elected as councillors, is a triumph for all the women. “This shows that women have their place in politics,” she claimed. However she argues that the low percentage of votes is not a good sign. She advises Mauritians to perform their civic duties when ever required.

Zareena Choomka – Ward No. 5, Port Louis
For this young lawyer, her first experience in politics has been really inspiring. “I saw how we have to work hard during the campaigns. It’s like I’ve lived two years in just 2 weeks of campaign,” she said. Our young elected candidate revealed that her very first intention when she joined politics “was to work for my ward and its residents.” She does not hide that the only challenge was the reluctance of some people to accept the fact that women can actually do politics.

“However the population has clearly showed its interest towards women. They have approved that women should have their voice in political matters by electing a third of them. This shows a change in mentalities,” she uttered.  She believes that a woman who joins politics should have a strong personality and character. Though politics is seen as a dirty business, Zareena trusts that “as long as you are doing it within the limits, as long as you are attaining your objectives, there is nothing wrong in it.”

Monisha Jooty - Ward No. 1, Vacoas/Phoenix
Whether it was the village or the municipal elections, the participation of young women speaks for itself. More and more young women are embracing politics, for the simple reason that they want to dedicate their time and energy to the well-being of their village or town.

Monisha Jooty is a young graduate who has at heart the cause of women and children. Monisha, like many other women in the recent elections, was motivated and encouraged to run for the elections so as to give back to her town and the society. "I seized the opportunity that was given to me as I wanted to serve the people of my town," she said.

During the campaigns, Monisha met many other women whom she said were very much enthusiastic to give their best. "The people are also happy to see that young women are embracing politics and that they are here to change things and bring a fresh vision," she told us. Monisha trusts that the youngsters should be given the opportunity to join politics and voice out their feelings as they have many new ideas. She claims to be really proud of the pathway of all the women who ran for both elections.

"I don't think that there will be any form of discrimination towards women in politics. Whether being a man or a woman, each of them has the same opportunities and chances. There is no difference," she revealed. Amongst her priorities as a young councillor, Monisha wants to focus on providing more sports and leisure activities to the people. "I seize this opportunity to make an appeal to all the youngsters against bad eating habits. The health situation is alarming in Mauritius. I thus encourage them to eat healthy foods and do sports."
Jameela Jaddoo

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