TAKING an oath in late 2018, Mayor Ajitha Vijayan of Thrissur is finally having her turn to lead the city famous for the culture of Kerala (India). Upon taking up her leadership, she expressed her stand that shed lights on the hope for local people. Although women’s participation in politics appears increasing in number, there remain several factors that make women politically excluded. Moreover, sometimes elected leaders disappear from the public/their constituents right after they come to power.

Keeping herself on the ground to ensure responsiveness to people’s needs
Before being elected, Mayor Ajitha Vijayan made a living to support her family as a milk deliverer. Even though elected as a Mayor, and it may deem appropriate that she focuses on her new assignment, Mayor Vijayan is determined to keep her old job. She believes that by delivering milk early in the morning, this task actually supports her new role as a Mayor of Thrissur. It allows her to meet with people, talk to them, listen to their problems as well as aspirations.

“I understand people’s problems since I live among them every day before sunrise.”

Mayor Ajitha Vijayan

Aspiring a Women-Friendly Thrissur
When asked about her vision, Mayor Ajitha Vijayan first acknowledged one of the challenges that city faces whenever leadership changes: the disruption or discontinuation of the work of previous leader. Giving this understanding, Mayor Ajitha has committed to continue and even accelerate the development works of her predecessor. This does not mean that as an elected leader she does not have her own vision for her city. Instead, she aspires to make Thrissur a women-friendly city.

To implement this, Mayor Ajitha plans to open more She Lodges, an accommodation built to ensure women’s safety, initially targeting unaccompanied women coming to the southern city, especially from other states and in dire need of a safe roof. She Lodges comprises dormitories and separate rooms. It is open for students, job trainees and working women. There are also facilities such as air-conditioned rooms, deluxe rooms, food, special care for senior citizens, sick, disabled and lactating women. Men are not allowed, only boys below age 12 with the accompaniment of their mothers.

Mayor Ajitha Vijayan is currently at the beginning of her new role as leader of her city. However, her aspirations to listen to her people and to make Thrissur a women friendly place have shown that her personal aspiration is to dedicate her leadership for the betterment of her people in general and women in particular.

“As a woman, I am interested in continuing the projects of the CPI(M) [Communist Party of India] for women, such as opening more She Lodges, and other projects to make Thrissur a corporation that is completely safe and friendly for women.”

Mayor Ajitha Vijayan