India: Women voters will significantly impact the outcome of elections

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India: Women voters will significantly impact the outcome of elections

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“The gradual emergence of women as an electoral power is an encouraging development for Indian democracy,” say Kanta Singh and Vrinda Handa.

The recently concluded elections for State Assemblies present similar trends witnessed earlier in terms of voter turnout. Not only more people voted this time but the number of female voters increased by 1-4 per cent.

Key Takeaways:

  • In the recently concluded elections for State Assemblies, the number of female voters increased by 1-4 per cent.
  • In the 16th General Election, women accounted for nearly 48% of the overall electorate, in line with India’s sex ratio.
  • An increase in female literacy coupled with greater voter education has led to enhanced political awareness among women voters.
  • Initiatives like the Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation Programme by ECI are hugely important for removing the gender gap in electoral participation.

The narrative of increased political participation of women has been one of the most interesting features of Indian democracy in the past few decades. It was not very long ago when political leaders ignored the female voters completely since conventionally men decided on who the family should vote for. Political parties did not have a separate strategy to either understand the aspirations of women voters or address them in the political agenda.

(...) Growing electoral participation of women

As a result of growing electoral participation of women, the election manifestos of all political parties are now peppered by promising prevention of gender-based violence, ensuring safe spaces for women and children, access to safe drinking water, loans for women entrepreneurs, agricultural credit and lower rates of interest, etc.

This, however, does not mean that women have become a ‘political constituency’. The agenda points in the manifestos have had mere token value so far. The political rallies and public events are very masculine spaces and there is hardly any platform for women to make political leaders listen to their specific needs and issues. Improving women’s participation in voting holds the key to greater voter turnout and socio-political gender parity.

Click here to read the full article published by She The People TV on 13 December 2018.

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