July, 2020

South Asian Women and the World of Politics

By Dupinder Kaur Saran

Despite being highly qualified all the seven South Asian women who ran in the 2018 Surrey municipal elections, could not make it through. Dupinder Saran, a registered nurse, who ran as a school board tries to find out the reason?


Entering the world of politics is not easy as we all know and understand.  Although politics is a career in which previous education in the area is not a necessity, knowledge in the area would be an asset in understanding the world a little more.

What criteria should be important when becoming a politician? What should politicians know or be aware of and why are they choosing to run? What biases you may face when running your campaign, and the level of games ultimately which occur during the election process in order to move ahead in the playing field?  These are all questions one should ask themselves when deciding to become a politician.

This career can be difficult for all as one is aware, since it is a matter of running a school, a city, a province or state, and the world after all.  After considering all of this, we then have the question of gender gap in the political world.  A woman running in politics versus a man.

According to the United Nations in June 2016 there were only about 22.8% of women involved in the parliament which was an 11.3% increase since 1995.  That is something to think about.  Despite that increase, is it that enough women are not choosing this area to work in, or is that enough women are just not being elected in.

As a woman who decided to run as school board trustee during the municipal elections in Surrey BC with an educational background as a registered nurse and a strong background of community service, I can truly understand the hardships faced during a campaign. I feel we need to not only question why so many women are not in the political field, but those who do choose to run, does being a South Asian woman also hinder your chances even more of becoming elected.

During this municipal election in British Columbia, many women ran, and out of those many, some were South Asian.  It was a great experience to have been able to campaign during a time when other South Asian females took the leap as council or school board trustee candidates in different municipalities throughout the Lower Mainland.

One thing I was certain about, was one of us will make it and get elected. How exciting, not only women from mainstream running to be elected, but South Asian women finally becoming more heroic in their efforts to step-up as well.  Over the years, when even a single South Asian woman decided to run municipally, provincially, or federally we all feel the need to support another female.

However, this time there were many of us.  So, looking forward to the fact that maybe one of us may have the opportunity to have an elected seat, it was a disappointment when the election results tallied up and not one of us made it.

The question then was why not?  So many of us were qualified and great candidates, some who had ran campaigns before or had assisted on other campaigns and knew what to expect, but despite that, not one, not two, but 7 candidates all South Asian women who did not make it.  Even though the experience was great for us, what are the underlying factors that make it so difficult for women to succeed in this area, and not just women, but South Asian women.

Is the male or female equivalency a factor, is it that being a woman of color you must work harder to have the same deserving seat, or is it that the South Asian woman herself is missing what it may take to be elected in.

In the past we have seen some South Asian women become elected in the provincial or municipal elections, so there must be something that was absent this time round. Difficult to state, but something worth the talk, as not a single South Asian woman candidate was elected into the municipality.  All running clean campaigns, and trying to get noticed as hard working, successful women, who already help with community service, the factor lies unnoticed.

What will it take for not only more women, but those from a South Asian background whom other women or young females can look up to, to be elected.  What will it take to rise to the top? How to succeed in this much needed area in our community.  What kind of further support is required? Who is willing to step up when another opportunity arises after seeing that many strong women failed in this run?

As they say though failures are what leads to success at times, so the way I see it, this just might be a stepping stone that has created a platform for others or ourselves to learn to succeed in an area that has many stones unturned yet.  After this experience, I see that our community has a long way to go still, and I am determined to help those women who choose politics in the future.  I feel when there are strong, successful, qualified female candidates, we must support them as we need to grow in this area.

I hope to see many more women, especially South Asian women, stepping up to the platform in the future and taking a stand where it’s required in today’s date.I hope a momentum is created after the municipal election for South Asian Women to create their platforms.  In the World of Politics!

Dupinder Kaur Saran (CEO, RN)

Nurse On the Go Home and Health Care Services

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