Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Published in The Hindu. 20 January 2011

The Aligarh Muslim University Women's College, established way back in 1906, was forced to come into being 5 km away from the Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College (M.A.O.C.), later renamed AMU, as M.A.O.C. Principal William Archbold felt “female education was injurious to the health of the M.A.O. college”.

Cut to 2011, students from the undergraduate women's college took part in the AMU students' union (AMUSU) elections here on Wednesday for the first time in the history of the university's student union.

The excitement in the air was palpable as scores of girls lined up in serpentine queues to cast their vote, eagerly brandishing their voting identification slips and identity cards.

“Women too must have a say in the election process. It is heartening that girls from our college are contesting the elections for the first time,” said Sanae Rabbi, an arts student, as her friends nodded in agreement.

Principal Bilquis Nasim Waris said: “Five girls are contesting the elections from the [women's] college; two each for the posts of AMUSU vice-president and cabinet member, and one for student representative to the court.”

The elections are taking place after more than four years.

Voting took place for the posts of union president, vice-president, honorary secretary, 10 cabinet posts and 11 varsity court positions.

The women's college, usually out of bounds for men, barring university authorities, faculty and staff, opened its doors partially on Wednesday to admit male Press members with some hesitation. Male students were strictly barred from entering, and for about 15 minutes security personnel shut the entrance gates as some male students tried to enter the premises.

“We are not allowed to interact with the students. How will they know about us as candidates? We would also like to see if proper voting is taking place inside the college, but we are not being allowed to enter,” complained a male presidential candidate.

A total of 11 girls are contesting the elections — one each for the posts of president and honorary secretary, two for vice-president, four for cabinet and three for the AMU court. Of the total 18,500 voters, 6,500 are girls.

However, the girls did not seem very optimistic about their prospects. “The girls are not voting in a united manner,” admitted a girl voter. “Still, we cannot vote blindly for someone just because it happens to be a girl. We will vote for meritorious candidates.”

Honorary secretary candidate Naheed Mustafa said: “The votes are being split. Girls are not voting for female candidates owing to various reasons. The boys will not vote for us as they are unwilling to accept female post-holders. There will be no point in our having contested elections if we do not win.”

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