President & Group Managing Director: Dr.Shelly Ahmed | Editor in Chief & Group CEO: M H Ahssan

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Fair edge: Women voters outnumber men in 6 states

By Kajol Singh

More Women Show Up At Booths But Remain Under-Represented In Parliament

Political parties may be chary of agreeing on 33% reservation for women and they might still be under-represented in Parliament, but they form an influential votebank that netas can ill afford to ignore as there now are about 33 crore registered women voters, only marginally less than 36 crore male voters.

According to the 2009 electoral rolls, women voters are in a majority in six states — Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Puducherry. While Andhra has 2.86 crore women voters as opposed to 2.80 crore men, in Kerala the ratio is 1.11 crore women to 1.03 crore men and Manipur has 8.97 lakh women compared to 8.29 lakh men.

While Meghalaya has 6.48 lakh registered female voters and 6.28 lakh men, Mizoram accounts for 3.17 lakh women in comparison to 3.08 lakh men. The state of Puducherry boasts of 3.91 lakh women to 3.63 lakh men on its voters’ list.

It is no surprise that even in states where women do not outnumber men as voters, governments have made it a point to announce women-oriented schemes, with Madhya Pradesh being a good example. Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has announced several schemes for women and girl children. Even the Delhi government has a ‘ladli’ scheme and the poll manifestoes of parties are bound to devote more than a few paragraphs to this important constituency.

According to records, while the total number of registered female voters has increased from 32.19 crore in 2004 to 33.75 crore in 2009, the number of women-majority states has come down from seven to six.

There is a slight departure from the 2004 poll data where Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Daman and Diu had more registered women voters than men. But in the 2009 rolls, the number of registered male voters has overtaken women in both TN and Daman and Diu. However, Meghalaya made an entry as a state with a higher women voter registration. This is unlikely to stop the ruling DMK from announcing schemes like free stoves and gas connections.

Incidentally, turnout of women has been around 60% in the last two general elections (1999 and 2004) with Lakshadweep recording the largest number of women voters.

Participation of female voters has been traditionally 10% lower compared to male voters.

There has been an upward trend in participation of female voters. In 1962 elections, only 46.6% female voters made their way to the booths which increased to 57.86% in 1998.

The highest poll turnout was in 1984 during which 59.2% women cast their votes.

This has, however, not reflected in the representation of women in Parliament which is about 8%. In over 50 years of Independence, the percentage of women in the Lok Sabha has increased from 4.4 to 9.02%, a figure that continues to be lower than the 15% average for countries with elected legislatures.

Neighbouring countries have already implemented a quota for women — such as Nepal with 33%, Pakistan with 22%. Even Bangladesh has a 14% quota.

Encouragingly, during the last four elections, large but relatively backward states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan elected a higher number of women MPs compared to more developed and urbanised states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. Women MPs from these states accounted for more than 40% of the total number of female representatives in the three successive Lok Sabhas since 1991.

On the contrary, the four relatively developed states accounted for only around 30% of the total women MPs in 1991 elections and less than 20% in 1996 and 1998 and about 25% in the 1999 elections.
Post a Comment