It is not a political candidate, constituency, election issue or some big-ticket political funding, the Lok Sabha elections 2019 may see a 'swing factor' in women empowerment. According to a brokerage research, women have made great strides as voters in the past decade and by 2019 women's turnout could meet-or even exceed-that of men in elections, making their voices and issues increasingly important at country's political stage.
"Though men still outnumber women as registered voters, the increase in women's participation is not driven by higher voter registration; rather, the shift is the result of greater turnout at the ballot box," says brokerage Centrum Broking in a report.
"Rising turnout and the growing political assertiveness of Indian women are making their voices and policy preferences heard loudly across the country's political stage. As is evident, women voters are agents of change-they vote differently than men and can affect re-election prospects," the brokerage adds.
One of the triggers behind women's rising turnout is a strong control on violence at election booths. "It is very evident when you see women's turnout in states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, where previous polls were marred by violence," the report says.
Pro-women policies such as triple talaq, liquor ban in Bihar and Mahalir Thittam, Amma Baby Care Kits, and Thalikku Thangam Thittam Scheme in Tamil Nadu also led to decisive voting in respective state assembly elections.
Following are some of key schemes for women launched post 2014 elections that could play a role in Lok Sabha elections 2019:
- The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act 2016-Increasing maternity leave in the organised sector
- Swachh Bharat Abhiyan-Aims to clean up the streets, roads and infrastructure of India's cities, towns and rural areas
- Ujjwala-Cooking gas cylinders for millions of poor households launched in May 2016
- Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Yojna-Save The Daughter, Educate The Daughter: launched Jan 2015
- Sukanya Samriddhi Account-Girl Child Prosperity Account: launched Jan 2015, saving scheme targeted at parents