Kerala Polls: Who is Noorbina Rasheed, IUML’s first female candidate in 25 years?
After 25 years, the Indian Union Muslim League will be fielding a female candidate again from Kozhikode South. According to sources, Pannakkad Hyderali Shihab Thangal announced Muslim Women League national general secretary Advocate Noorbina Rasheed to the constituency. Noorbina was also a former councillor of the Kozhikode Corporation. She was one among the many names — Women League state president Suhara Mambad, national secretary Jayanthi Rajan, state secretary P Kulsu, Muslim Student Federation national vice president Advocate Fathima Thahlia — were considered for the constituency.
Noorbina joined the League’s state secretariat in 2018, which is also the first for any women to be part of the League’s state leadership. She is also the founding secretary of the Indian Union Women’s League, creating a platform where Muslim women are empowered to take part in the political process. In 2011, she was selected as part of ‘100 Women Leaders’ by the Unites States’ the then Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. Apart from being one of the two Indian delegates to the US for the 100th International Women’s day exchange programme, she has also represented Indian Women in exchange programmes in the United Kingdom.
Apart from her political ventures, she is also one of the first — if not the first — Muslim women lawyer practising criminal law in the 1980s. With more than three decades in her kitty, Noorbina is one of the leading lawyers and she has established an all-women independent chamber operational since 2013. In the 90s, she allowed herself to get into the political discourse in the country, and that led to the creation of the IUWL.
After a decade as a Member of Kerala Women’s commission and one of two Muslim female trainers in the Kerala State Mediation and Conciliation Committee (High Court of Kerala), she strived to set up fast-track courts to expedite justice, and rehabilitation to victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and other such crimes. She has also been the Executive Director of Kerala State Literacy Mission, where she set up and implemented a continuous learning programme for college dropouts and senior citizens across Kerala.
In their 72-year-long history, the Indian Union Muslim League had fielded their first female candidate — Khamarunnisa Anwar — from the Kozhikode South candidate in 1996. However, Khamarunnisa lost to LDF’s Elamaram Kareem for 8,700 something votes. Soon after, even though there were discussions to field another female candidate there were no concrete actions on that front. According to reports, the League had claimed that it was the opposition of the EK Sunni faction — which is the party’s largest vote bank — that stopped the League from standing women in the Lok Sabha and/or Assembly elections.
Following this, Samastha — it is the principal Sunni scholarly body in Kerala — had garnered the criticism of various political and progressive groups, who alleged that Samastha was a sexist organisation. This led the body to come out in the open and correct the League, by explaining that they had no part in the alleged “opposition” to fielding women in elections.