General Elections 2019

Women voters are louder than ever and that’s because of poll panel, quota: Experts

In these Lok Sabha elections, women voters outnumbered men in 13 states

 
By Kundan Pandey
Last Updated: Thursday 23 May 2019

Image: Getty ImagesMore and more women are exercising their right to vote in elections and this may be because of the Election Commission of India’s (ECI) efforts and the reservation quota, say experts.

In the 17th Lok Sabha elections, the number of women voters outnumbered men in 13 states, while this had happened in just 10 states in 2014.

Earlier, these trends were visible only in India’s northeastern and southern states and Union territories. But in the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, northern states like Bihar and Uttarakhand also joined this league.

This is not an easy achievement if one considers history. The 1962 Lok Sabha elections saw a gap 16.7 per cent between men and women voters and in 2014 this was reduced to just 1.5 per cent.

The credit goes to Election Commission of India, Gilles Verniers, assistant professor of political sciences at Ashoka University and co-director of Trivedi Centre for Political Data, told Down To Earth while talking about women voters few months ago.

He adds that the surge is because of better registration and better campaigns run by the ECI. Between 2009 and 2014, 39 million women voters were registered. Now, people are more willing to participate in voting, he says.

This is could be the reason that governments bring several schemes to woe women. While the Narendra Modi-led government introduced Ujjwala scheme for clean cooking fuel, the Congress announced a minimum income programme, under which money would be transferred in a woman’s bank account in the family.

Recently, the Biju Janta Dal (BJD) decided to provide 33 per cent reservation to women in allocation of Lok Sabha seats. Experts say the rise in voters is also because of reservation in Panchayat elections and other developmental schemes targeting them.

In the last few decades, there have been a number of schemes and programmes targeting women which include direct transfer which has led to awareness among women and made them participate more in selecting people’s representatives, says Zoya Hasan, professor of political science in Jawaharlal Nehru University.

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