As we approach the Karnataka Assembly elections, a look at the number of women candidates that parties are fielding in this election shows that it is beyond feeble. The Election Commission released the data on Saturday which states that a bare minimum of 219 of the 2,655 candidates are women. This number makes up only 8% of women candidates and the rest of 92% are men.

While Congress has pitched in 15 women candidates, BJP has come up with only six. And this is the reality when 49% of the state’s voting population is women. But there is a jump in the number of women candidates from the year 2013 when it was only 6% however five years past that we have only managed to go up by two percent from what it was back then.

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The data study tells that the assemblies of Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Meghalaya have less than 5% women legislators. The states having the largest number of women legislators at around 15% are Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and West Bengal.

“Women in the south have better figures for sex ratio, education, maternal mortality and infant mortality and female labour force participation, yet Kerala and Karnataka have worst figures for elected women at Assembly and Lok Sabha levels.”

While these states may not fare well in other factors relating to gender equality, they have managed to build the highest proportion of women MLAs in Western and Central India.

“Women in the south have better figures for sex ratio, education, maternal mortality and infant mortality and female labour force participation, yet Kerala and Karnataka have worst figures for elected women at Assembly and Lok Sabha levels,” explains Radha Kumar, a specialist on gender, conflict, and public policy told National Herald.

Kumar also feels that there is a general contempt towards women’s voice in the southern part of the country. “Better education and better quality of life for women has not translated into better representation or improved decision-making powers. Politics has remained a bastion for men in the south though there were powerful women like Jayalalithaa and VK Sasikala,” said Kumar.

While in North and central states have organically more interest in politics which could be a reason for a better figure of women legislators in northern and central states, believes Kumar.

Picture credit- India Resists

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