It came at a price…The Right to Vote!
(Published in Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar, dated: 23 April 2015)
We live in eruptive times. These are the times of no patience that warrant instant results. Close on the heels of the General Election 2015, we see a heightened (even manic) political activism. Whilst a number of you may find the election fervour exciting and are totally switched on about the minute by minute developments in the world of politics and campaigning; for a number of others, it is just a blur.
Last week I read Lord Popat’s article titled “This election is about you” and he highlighted the struggle of immigrants from East Africa in the 1970s. I felt a strange weight upon me, reading the words: “Imagine living for fifty years and never having the right to say who should be in Government.” I also happened to witness the “I am an Immigrant” campaign go up at tube stations. I have been attending hustings and have read through the many manifestos spelt out by various communities. While it is heartening to see so much activism and awareness on ‘our rights’ and ‘our demands’, it saddens me to then hear from members of public: “I don’t believe in politics” or “There is no point in voting because everyone is just the same”.
As a resident, tax payer and a responsible member of the British Indian society, I feel it is my personal and moral responsibility to vote. Not because I am always in the minority, seeking representation. Or because I am an immigrant and I wish to prove my contribution. As a woman, a mother and a community worker, I take it upon myself as a special duty to ensure there is adequate discussion on the importance of the Right of Vote.
I would like to reach out to fellow ladies reading this article, all of you need to realise that today the vote that we so callously dismiss has cost many of our predecessors their lives. Some of you will recall that it was not until the Equal Franchise Act was passed in 1928 that women won the same voting rights as men. It was, until that time, a privilege left to very few members of the male fraternity to be able to vote and to voice opinion.
While we may want magic solutions to economic crisis, increasing population, environmental degradation and employment figures, as a mother I would like to remind you that it takes 9 months for us to nurture and give birth to a life and many years followed on from there to shape them into responsible adults. What we sow today, we will reap tomorrow. However, if we choose NOT to sow, we shall not be in a position to reap at all!
Let’s keep it simple and sow today. The Right of Vote gives us not just the power but places upon us the responsibility to be good citizens. Let us not be part of the statistic that says we DID NOT shoulder our responsibility in the democratic process. Today men and women both share the responsibility to uphold this democratic process and ensure the vote isn’t wasted.
I read this graffiti somewhere and it has stuck with me: “It’s a man’s world….unless women vote”.