Karnataka 2018

Poor representation of women in politics

The 13% rise in the number of women voters compared to the 2013 Assembly elections is no doubt a good sign in a democratic set up. But, relatively, the number of women candidates fielded by all main political parties is abysmally low, although the total number has gone up from 170 in 2013 to 219 this year.

At 15, Congress has fielded the highest number of women candidates this time. But, even that is a mere 6.8%. While the BJP has officially given seats to five women (2.3%), the JD(S) has named six women in their list (2.75%). As many as 53 candidates are contesting as Independents.

Ironically, the Mahila Empowerment Party (MEP), which is led by a woman, has also fielded only 12 women candidates.

This is hardly a surprise if you look at Karnataka’s track record. In 2013, the total number of women candidates in the fray was 170, nearly 6% of the total number of candidates. While the Congress and BJP gave a mere 10 and seven tickets, respectively, to women, the JD(S) gave only six. Sixty seven women contested as Independent candidates.

And of the 170 women who contested, only six won of which none was an Independent. Three of the six women MLAs were from Congress, two from BJP, and one from JD(S).

Of the three women MLAs in the Congress, only one — Umashree — became a Minister in the Siddaramaiah Cabinet, with the portfolio of Minister for Women and Child Development. In the Gundlupet byelection in 2017, M.C. Mohan Kumari alias Geetha Mahadeva Prasad won from the Congress, and was then elevated as Minister of State with independent charge for Sugar and Small Industries.

Former Minister and Congress member Rani Satish said women were lagging because party leaders only considered the winnability criterion.

“Parties are only bothered about number games and they feel if they stick to principles, it will affect the party’s prospects. While we understand this, senior women politicians should be considered at least during nominations to Raj Sabha or Legislative Council,” she said.

Saraswati Chimmalgi of Mahileyara Rajakiya Hakkina Horta Samiti (committee to demand political rights to women) said all parties are only interested in getting votes from women, but not in giving them political representation and empowerment.

“We are now planning to sensitise all women to boycott polls because unless we do this, the parties will not realise our value,” she said. The samiti, with members from various political parties, was set up in February. It had demanded that at least two women in every district should be given a chance.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2022 1:57:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/karnataka-2018/poor-representation-of-women-in-politics/article23713837.ece

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