The Panjab University Campus Students Council (PUCSC) student council elections were first held in 1977 and till date, only one woman candidate has been able to grab the president’s post.
It was in 2018 when Students For Society’s Kanupriya became the first woman president of the PU student council after defeating five male candidates. The party again fielded a female candidate for the post in 2019, but was unable to repeat its past success. The polls haven’t been held since then amid the pandemic.
SFS was also the first party to field a woman for the post in 2014, and it was in 2016 when the National Students Union of India (NSUI) became the first national party to declare a female presidential candidate.
Even this year, of the eight student bodies that have announced their presidential candidate for the upcoming polls, only SFS and Panjab University Students Union (PUSU) have decided to field a female candidate.
“We choose the best possible candidate who is committed to the party. It was earlier believed that a woman face cannot bring victory to a party, but we broke the tradition in 2018,’ said Sandeep, president of SFS.
Two female presidential candidates this time
This year, SFS has chosen Bhawanjot Kaur, an MPhil student from the philosophy department, as its face for the elections, while PUSU has for the first time in its history declared Shivali from the zoology department as its presidential candidate.
Kanupriya said that the main reason that we don’t see many women candidates in the political space is because of societal constraints inhibiting young women from expressing themselves politically and publicly. “PU got its “first woman president” in 2018, but the patriarchal structure is still the same. We are in dire need of feminist autonomous infrastructure on campus to encourage socialization and politicization of women students,” she said.
Former president of Panjab University Teachers Association (PUTA) and professor of political science Mohammed Khalid, said, “SFS first started fielding women candidates for presidential post and also gave the first president to PUCSC. We have a high ratio of female students, so student bodies also need to understand why female candidates should be fielded for key posts (president or secretary),” he said.
Apart from PUSU and SFS, National Students Union of India (NSUI), Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), Punjab Students’ Union (Lalkaar), Indian National Students’ Organization (INSO), Student Organization of India (SOI) and Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Samiti (CYSS) have also announced their presidential candidate.