Manipur has witnessed a sharp rise in women voters ahead of the upcoming elections. This year, they have outnumbered men as they make up around 52 per cent of the 20 lakh people who will cast their votes. However, it is not the same story on the other end as only 6.42 per cent of candidates are women.
The state is known for setting examples of gender equality with a record number of women voters each time. While the statistics are encouraging, the women's participation in electoral candidature paints a bleak picture in the scheme of things.
Abysmal Women Involvement
According to Deccan Herald, the 265 candidates consist of only 17 female participants. This includes four from Congress, three from BJP and the National People's Party (NPP), National Congress Party (NCP) fielding two candidates. One each from Janata Dal-United, a local party. Two independent candidates are contesting the elections.
Compared to the 2017 elections, the numbers are a silver lining. Only 11 women candidates took part in the polls, out of which only two were elected into the state assembly, Nemcha Kipgen and Akoijam Mirabai Devi. Also, they are the two sitting MLAs who are contesting this year's elections as well.
Women Integral In Manipur's Economics
Since British rule, women have been the major players in the state's economy. An example is the 'Ima Keithel', Asia's most significant marketplace solely run by women. The most prominent centre functions in Imphal and other minor branches are in different parts of Manipur that contribute towards its economic growth.
Their negligent presence in the state legislature is a major disappointment despite playing an integral role. A writer from Imphal named Iboyaima Laithangbom told the Deccan Herald, "Unless the women become a part of the policy-making bodies, their actual empowerment is impossible. By allowing fewer women to contest the elections, the political parties deprive them of equality."
In light of this, political parties give reasons for lesser women's participation. According to them, a candidate must have the ability to win over people because of which they are selected. Others cite lack of resources as a reason as well.
Therefore, the abysmal women's participation will come back to hurt the parties taking part in the elections. They are increasingly becoming necessary for the elections, and their involvement will only facilitate equality in the political dynamics.
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