Smaller political parties, both regional and national, have shown the way in this Lok Sabha election by giving ticket to a higher percentage of women candidates, while big parties with a much larger number of contestants fared poorly in doing so.
As a result, the number of women candidates is a mere 8.82%, according to numbers available for the first five phases.
A Tamil nationalist party, Naam Tamilar Katchi, led by actor-turned-politician Seeman, is the only party to have given an equal number of ticket to both men and women.
Of the 40 candidates, there were 20 women and 20 men, party spokesperson Backiarajan said.
Data collected by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) show the Trinamool Congress is well on its way to meet its target of 40% women candidates — it has fielded 34.15% women candidates with 14 women out of the total 41 candidates and has two more phases of voting left. Biju Janata Dal leader and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has fulfilled his promise of giving 33% of the ticket to women. The party fielded seven women among 21 candidates.
Parties led by young leaders like Jagan Reddy (YSR Congress Party) and Akhilesh Yadav (Samajwadi Party) have fared better than others. The YSRCP has fielded four women, accounting for 16% of its 25 contestants. The SP has 13.89% women candidates — five women and 31 men. These parties are followed by Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Congress and the BJP, in that order.
The CPI(M) has 12.96% women candidates, or seven out of the total 54 candidates.
The Congress has 12.8% women candidates or 42 out of 328. The BJP has 12.5%, or 42 out of 336.
The BJP and the Congress have promised 33% reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and the Assemblies in their manifestos.
Bihar at the bottom
Among the worst performers are two parties from Bihar — the Janata Dal(U) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal. Both parties have failed to field even a single woman candidate so far.
Only 534 women are fighting this election out of the total 6,049 candidates, which means only 8.82% of the total number of contestants are women.
Women are also a small minority among Independent candidates: only 6.69% of the total 2,750 Independent candidates.
Among the States and Union Territories that will vote in the remaining two phases are West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Bihar and Delhi.