The election commission in India is very keen to increase the voter turnout. So when the elections to state assembly in Goa was held yesterday they tried an innovative method to lure new voters to the polling booth. But sadly the innovation helped only to strengthen very old gender stereotypes.
According to the state’s top poll official, Kunal, a unique experiment conducted during the February 4 state assembly elections, which involved giving away 600 teddy bears to first-time women voters across Goa, had paid dividends.
The snuggly teddy bears were given to the early-visiting first-time voters in over 40 model polling booths, one in each of the 40 assembly constituencies in Goa, which went to poll on Saturday.
The pink polling booths, in which the teddy bears were given away, appeared to come straight out of a birthday party with a pink pastel theme, with its pink walls, pink balloons, pink table cloths, even with most of the women poll officials wearing pink clothes.
As a trend, our pink polling stations got two per cent more voting than the average polling rate in all the other regular polling booths. People received the idea well,” Kunal said
Incidentally, first-time male voters also received a gift of appreciation, although much less snuggly, in form of a pen.
So the election commission is proclaiming women’s role is confined to home, taking care of the kids, while that of men is confined to taking up jobs needing pens to support the family.
The government itself is encouraging such regressive stereotypes. No wonder India has one of the poorest sex ratios in the world.