With an eye on women voters, several student outfits are focussing on gender issues in the Delhi University Student Union (DUSU) elections this year.
The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) on Monday released a 21-point manifesto, along with a separate “WoManifesto” for women students.
Similarly, the Congress backed National Students’ Union of India (NSUI),which released its manifesto on Saturday, announced a separate manifesto for women on Monday called “Her Manifesto”.
The other parties have called the move “tokenistic in nature”.
The ABVP said they will work on issues ranging from security of women students and gender sensitisation camps to self-defence training on campus and women trainers in sports and extracurricular activities. They also said they would work on scholarships for transgender students.
NSUI released a separate manifesto for women on Monday, including points such as menstrual leave up to 12 days per semester, zero tolerance to harassment, and gender sensitisation workshops that create a welcoming environment for the LGBTQI+ community and women.
A statement by NSUI said, “Issues such as zero tolerance towards sexual violence, increasing police patrolling outside the college campus, installing CCTV cameras on campus, providing a friendly environment to LGBTQIA+ students in the university have been included.”
Ashutosh Singh, ABVP national convener, said they are hoping for more participation of women students this year. He said, “After Covid-19, a lot of gender issues has emerged… that is why we wanted to focus on them in our manifesto. We have seen a higher participation of women candidates, and are hoping to see a higher participation of women voters.”
There are a total of 24 candidates in the fray for the four DUSU posts, of whom 11 are women.
NSUI has fielded four candidates for the four posts, among whom one is a woman candidate.
ABVP too, has fielded one woman candidate among its four.
All India Students’ Association (AISA) had three women candidates and Students’ Federation of India (SFI) has two women in the fray. The post of secretary has the highest number of women candidates this time.
Chief election officer, DUSU elections, Chandra Shekhar said, “We do not have the exact number of voters as yet but over 100,000 students are expected to vote. We have more women than male students in the university. A number of candidates this time, are women too.”
According to the 2023 admissions data, released by the university on August 28, female students made up 53% in the current batch of first years.
In 2019, the total voter turnout was 39.9% and in 2018, it was 44.6%. At the time, however, the university had not specified the number of male/female students.
Aditi Tyagi, SFI candidate for the post of secretary, called the special manifestos “tokenistic”.
She said, “It is good that they are taking out separate manifestos for women. But our experience tells us that the parties limit themselves to merely releasing manifestos.”