Only 16 women in fray on BJP, Congress tickets

Only 16 women in fray on BJP, Congress tickets

Only 16 women candiates have been fielded by the ruling BJP and opposition Congress for phase one of the Gujarat Assembly polls though both the parties back the Women's Reservation Bill that provides 33 per cent reservation.

While the BJP has fielded 11 women candidates, the Congress has named just five candidates for the 87 assembly seats that will go to polls on December 13 across Saurashtra, South Gujarat and four seats in western Ahmedabad district.

The Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP), a new entrant into the political battlefield this year, headed by former chief minister Keshubhai Patel, has fielded only one woman candidate.

Explaining the rationale behind very few women taking to politics, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Gujarat University, Gaurang Jani said, "Political awareness is less among women from rural areas and in urban areas, only the successful women candidates are repeated."

According to Jani, the state government, on its part, has not undertaken measures to empower women and create educational awareness about political participation, adding that, Gujarat lags behind on key social indicators like female foeticide, infant mortality rate, high malnutrition rate, among others.

Highlighting that elections have not been held in state universities for many years, Jani said that student politicians are nurtured in colleges and universities.

Echoing similar views, Gujarat Mahila Federation (GMF), an organisation working for women's empowerment, president Ila Pathak said that women are not allowed to dabble into politics because it is considered a "taboo" to do so.

She added that male politicians are well-connected locally and in rural areas, there are not enough women candidates who can enter the fray and that is why, political parties have less number of seats for women to contest.

In the 2007 state assembly elections, 88 women contested the polls with 16 of them emerging victorious. 15 of the 16 elected women legislators belonged to the saffron party while one woman legislator was from the Congress.

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