Past decade saw increase in number of women voters: Book

The focus of India’s electoral politics over the past decade has shifted towards women’s participation, corresponding with a rise in the number of women voters, according to a new book released Friday.

The book, Women Voters in Indian Elections – Changing Trends and Emerging Patterns, has been edited by Prof Sanjay Kumar of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.

“People have been talking about how women’s vote has now become decisive in the victory of a political party. However, this is being stated without evidence. One of the reasons why it has become decisive is because participation of women in electoral politics has been on the rise,” Prof Kumar said.

Prof Kumar added the gender gap in electoral politics in the country has been declining steadily over the past 70 years. He said till 2010 the number of women voters was less than men, while in the 2019 general elections, men and women voted in nearly equal numbers.

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“There is now a clear indication of more women voting than men in various state elections,’’ Prof Kumar said.

He further pointed out that in Uttar Pradesh, in both 2017 as well as 2022 state elections, women voters outstripped men.

Other states like Bihar and Uttarakhand have shown similar trends in recent elections, while in Punjab and Delhi, the number of men and women voting have been “near equal’’, Prof Kumar said, adding the only exception to this trend is Maharashtra, where the number of men voters is higher.

Speaking during a discussion on ‘Have Women Arrived in Indian Politics?’, Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi said while there has not been a drastic increase in the number of women standing for elections, political parties have definitely taken cognisance o f the increase in the number of women voters.

While RJD national spokesperson Nawal Kishore said his party has always focused on women, especially those from the poor and the marginalised communities, Congress leader Alka Lamba said that the party, in its recently held chintan shivir in Udaipur, decided to ensure 33% women participation in the organisation – from the block level to the CWC.

SP’s Ghanshyam Tiwari stressed that the foundation of women’s participation has to be education, social empowerment and employment.
AAP’s Sanjeev Jha said: “Till the time a political party does not fear a loss, you will never be able to receive representation.”

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