Mauritius – “MPs should represent the voice of the citizens and adopt a people-centred approach.” Subhasnee Luchmun Roy

Date: May 15, 2023
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“Everyone should be given the opportunity to serve their country, without any discrimination.”

Subhasnee Luchmun Roy is a member of the National Assembly and a member of the political party ‘Mouvement Socialiste Militant (MSM)’. Her first encounter with Gender Links dates back to the launch of the 50-50 campaign (Rezone) which aims to advance gender equality and youth participation in politics. She describes her experience with Gender Links as very positive. She had heard of Gender Links through her previous working experience in the media. Luchmun Roy has also attended the workshop on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (ASRHR) and Climate Justice organized by Gender Links Mauritius.

In terms of her professional experience, Luchmun Roy has had a rich career in the media industry. She has 12 years of experience at a private radio station. During her working experience, she began her BA in Communications at the University of Technology Mauritius (UTM) and she was particularly passionate about the module on political communication. Her dissertation was specifically based on communication in politics. Luchmun Roy also holds an LLM In International Business Law. She was initially involved in entertainment programmes and thereafter in programmes specifically geared towards finding solutions to citizens’ qualms. According to her, the media’s role is to act as a liaison between institutions and members of the public and to also bridge any communication gap.

Furthermore in 2019, Luchmun Roy was given the opportunity to stand as candidate for the general elections. Her focus, determination and positivity has helped her to run a successful political campaign. She has served as a role model for women wanting to partake in the political life of their country: she is a young woman aged 34, a mother of two children and a media professional with no prior political affiliations. From her personal experience, she narrates how she was always targeted and belittled due to the following reasons: because she is a woman and because she previously worked in the media and hence, does not represent the typical profile of a politician. Given the bullying she faced as a female MP, she claims that it is important that due credence is given to women who have a vision for their country and who want to enter into politics. It is nonetheless discouraging for women to enter into active politics in the face of incessant bullying and remarks. According to her, there is a fine line when it comes to the extent of freedom of expression and communication and hence, she believes that the media needs to be regulated.

In relation to the challenges faced by female parliamentarians, she claims that the language directed towards female MPs is often insulting and demeaning. In view of addressing this particular situation, she affirms that basic manners and decency need to take primacy. It is important that people show willingness to have a debate on ideas rather than making sexist and personal remarks. Parents, religious bodies, community teams and NGOs have the collective responsibility of ensuring a value-based education. It is equally crucial that parents receive training and counselling for the conducive upbringing of their children.

“How do you feel being a man in politics?” Luchmun Roy asserts that this question is never addressed to any man. Men in politics often portray themselves as very macho and confident. The body language of men in politics can also be intimidating towards women and young people in Parliament. Luchmun Roy posits that the younger generation of politicians is more respectful though. It is paradoxical that parliamentarians can be very disrespectful during debates but friendly outside of parliamentary debates. This generates a perception of political enmity which is exacerbated by political agents on the ground.

Speaking from her personal experience, Luchmun Roy says that she is grateful to have a supportive husband who cared for their children during her political campaigning or when she needs to be present at Parliament. Mutual respect, shared responsibility of household tasks as well as family support are indeed important to have a good work-life balance.

The impacts of climate change, the empowerment of young people and homelessness represent some pertinent causes that Luchmun Roy is passionate about. She believes that homelessness is a social issue that needs to be given more consideration; some people find themselves constrained by certain circumstances and consequently homeless. In addition, Luchmun Roy iterates her concern on how young people are completely trapped in the virtual world and are not keen in doing sports activities. Nevertheless, hiking became a popular hobby during the Covid-19 lockdown. In relation to climate change, Luchmun Roy asserts that a realistic approach needs to be taken when it comes to actions to be taken to mitigate the impact of climate change. She deems that the involvement of public and private stakeholders is important to combat the effects of climate change. Tackling climate justice should be a priority at the highest level of governance and across all developed countries. It is paradoxical that the NGOs taking actions for climate change are themselves financed by countries and companies which emit high levels of carbon dioxide and toxic gases.

In terms of her future plans, she aims to focus on bringing services to the young people thereby providing young people with the right framework and support for their empowerment and career choices. Young people should know what they want and understand that to fail is normal, whether in their personal or professional pathways. Women and youth should not be afraid to put forward their contributions if they want to serve their country. Everyone should be given the opportunity to serve their country, without any discrimination. It is not only in active politics that we can serve our country or bring positive changes. Moreover, one cannot do social work with the objective of gaining something. Sincerity in the course of action is very important: humanity should come before politics. MPs should represent the voice of the citizens and adopt a people-centred approach. One should remain realistic as power remains ephemeral. Rather, Luchmun Roy affirms that it is the legacy and the positive actions that one leaves behind which are more important.