“I feel strongly that women have to believe in themselves before they can advocate and convince others that they can advocate and convince others that they can be leaders and represent the community.”
Anita has served as a Councillor with Ba Town Council for 15 Years. She serves on the Ba Hospital Board and will consider standing for elections in the future only if approached by the community.
I come from a family that is involved in politics and social work. I was closely involved with the community and served on many social and religious organizations, including Soroptomist International, red Cross, The Sanatan Dharam and St.Teresa’s School.
The Big Decision
I was inspired by the late Dr Balwant Singh Rakha and Mr Vinod Patel (both senior memebers of the National Federation Party). They convinced me to run in the local government election. Although I did not know of the practical workings of councils, I was committed to serve.
“There is a lot of satisfaction that comes from serving people. I enjoy serving the community as I learn a lot also.”
I received a lot of support from my family and husband, and feel that this support is very important for a woman who decides to run for public office.
The campaign itself was managed by the national body and local branch of my political party. I also organised my own group of women and networked through the organisations I belonged to. I received training through my political party and UNIFEM (through their Women in Politics Project) that gave me more confidence, I recommend training to other women who intend to contest elections.
I was the only woman on the council to begin with and the women’s perspective was totally lost. Women think and act differently: they have foresight, are more cautious, emotional and passionate about issues. I also felt challenged because many councillors were lacking basic education so they did not really understand issues; a few decided and the rest followed. I feel very strongly that anyone wanting to contest municipal elections must have basic education.
Being a councillor gave me my own identity and I feel very proud of being a part of its development in the last 15 years. I supported new market development and new parks. The Ba Town Council also received the award for cleanest town twice from the Commonwealth Local Government Forum. I served as deputy mayor and also chaired important committees, including Building and Health, Market, Staff, Tender and Finance.
Words of Advice
It is important that women understand civic issues and the processes of local government. Women also have to rid themselves of the mindset that they have a subordinate role in family and in society. Women themselves have to believe they are equal before any real changes can be realised, ‘where there is a will, there is a way.’
Finally, women should start working in their communities to initiate change