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How Women Voters Shape the Agenda of India's Political Parties

© AP Photo / Rajesh Kumar SinghWomen walk as they carry pitchers filled with drinking water on a hot summer afternoon in Lalitpur, Uttar Pradesh state, India, Saturday, June 17, 2023.
Women walk as they carry pitchers filled with drinking water on a hot summer afternoon in Lalitpur,  Uttar Pradesh state, India, Saturday, June 17, 2023. - Sputnik India, 1920, 15.02.2024
According to a recent report by the Election Commission of India, the gender ratio in 2024 stands at 948, with women outnumbering newly registered male voters by over 15 percent.
Political parties are currently scrambling to secure women's votes, using financial assistance, loans tailored specifically for women, healthcare support, and even smartphones.

Political analysts predict that in the upcoming 2024 election, the number of women exercising their right to vote will be on par with their male counterparts.

According to media reports, the voter percentage difference between men and women was 16 percent. However, that figure was halved to 8.4 percentage points in the 2004 national elections and was down to 1.8 percentage points in 2014.

How Political Parties View This Shift?

In the November 2023 state assembly election in Madhya Pradesh, the ruling BJP government introduced various schemes oriented towards women like Ladli Behna and Ladli Lakshmi Yojana, in both cases, cash is transferred directly to a woman's bank account.
"These schemes were quite popular among women and also considered one of the important factors of BJP win," known psephologist Sanjay Kumar told Sputnik India.
Congress, who won Telangana, promised free bus travel for women, subsidised LPG cylinders and monthly financial assistance to poor women. In Chhattisgarh, all political parties promised financial support every year to unmarried women, among other schemes.

For Whom Do Women Cast Their Votes?

"Women are silent voters because most of the time they are not participating in roadside debates or sharing their public opinion about parties. More importantly, nobody knows what women want, their demands differ from region to region. In Telangana, they need financial assistance, and in Delhi, they seek public safety," Mohit Pandey, another psephologist, told Sputnik India.

"However, women voters [are] genuinely committed. Often data shows, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and even Bihar state chief Nitish Kumar have good number of female voters. Both leaders have announced many women centric schemes," Pandey noted.

Meanwhile, Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social Research, told Sputnik India that institutions at the rural level have played a crucial role in encouraging women to exercise their voting rights. Additionally, welfare programs specifically designed for women have had a positive impact on their empowerment.
An election officer puts the indelible ink mark on the finger of a voter in Chachiyawas, near Ajmer, India, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. - Sputnik India, 1920, 04.01.2024
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