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This coming elections we are expecting to see the largest female voter turnout in the history of India. We are discussing and reporting on what women want more than ever,  along with how the female voters may influence the outcome of 2019 general election and who the female candidates are. While the numbers look good, should women be collectively seeking more as a vote bank?

#WomenAndTheVote

“Women need to organise themselves as a vote bank for their voice to be truly heard,” says journalist Rohini Singh of The Wire in a chat with SheThePeople.TV. “One way of ensuring more women vote, is to give more tickets to women candidates. Women need to be told that their participation in politics, be it as a candidate or a voter, is vital. Political parties need to reach out to more women voters.”

The voter enrollment figures from the Election Commission show a rise in women voter turnout in the country. In case of first-time voters, women’s count lies at a record 4.35 crores exceeding men voter count which is at 3.80 crores. The 2014 General Elections saw a narrowing in the gender gap between male and female voters, in terms of turnout.  64% women of the total eligible voters came out to vote, while among men that figure stood at 67%.

Women voters have seen a steady growth in terms of numbers since 1962 when the voter turnout percentage among women was 46%. In the state elections that happened between 2017-2018 women have outnumbered men by a margin.

India women voter turnout

Dalit activist Ruth Manorama says that despite women’s participation in large numbers, there is a lack of leadership. “Women participate in dharnas and protests in large numbers, but the problem is that leadership and decision-making is not in their hands. Therefore in movements like these women need to show up and that will only happen when families, brothers, fathers have to encourage them to join in political decision-making.. There has to be support from the men’s side for women to join in the political discourse,” she noted.

Political Shakti founder Tara Krishnaswamy also emphasized on the female voter turnout percentage. She said, “Women coming out to vote in unprecedented numbers in election after election is a clear indication that they are increasingly aware of their  political  strength. While a couple of significant political parties like the AITMC, BJD etc., are attempting to woo women by creating an agenda for their development, most parties are ignoring the potential electoral strength of women. The Congress manifesto attempts to appeal to women but forging a vote bank never happens on basis a of manifesto alone but rather consistent deliveries of long term beneficial schemes.”
Rohini Singh added to this saying, if there are more women in politics, they can bring a transformation. “More women in politics would ensure greater focus on issues that matter to women such as safety, education, jobs. It would ensure greater representation of women in other professions too.”

ALSO READ: Why Indian elections remain a male bastion, even as women raise the pitch

Women participate in dharnas and protests in large numbers, but the problem is that leadership and decision-making is not in their hands. There has to be support from the men’s side for women to join in the political discourse

Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi said,”Women also have to mentally make their mind up that it might be a male-dominated environment but you can create your space if you have the will to take that battle head on. We need to give political and stronger voices to women because we also bring in a perspective,” she added.

Like there are vote banks of various castes, religions etc. it’s important that women collectively call out the farce in politics and escalate their issues and needs in the Parliament. This will only happen when more women win Lok Sabha seats and when all the political parties open their doors for women whole-heartedly.

More Stories by Poorvi Gupta

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