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Rising Tide

May/04/2024 / by Habibur Shohon

The growing female voter turnout in India

During the general election of 2019, the long-standing gender voter turnout gap between men and women disappeared—for the first time, women voter turnout was higher than that of men. What does the increasing voter participation mean for India’s ongoing general election this year? It could be significant, according to data from several studies.

The reasons for the surge in voter turnout range from an increase in political knowledge, literacy, and media exposure. Whatever the causes, however, political parties are making serious efforts to attract the female vote, according to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “Some observers have argued that an important reason the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won an overwhelming majority in last year’s state assembly election in Madhya Pradesh was the popularity of its Ladali Behna scheme, which promised a 1,000-rupee cash handout to women… In September 2023, Parliament passed a women’s reservation bill that mandates gender quotas in state and national assemblies. When the bill is implemented, one-third of legislative seats will be reserved for women.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has exalted himself as the provider for women and their welfare. As the prime minister recently remarked, “When mother and sisters are empowered, then the entire family is empowered. Therefore, the priority of the [government] is the welfare of mothers and sisters.” 

Image credits: Ritesh Shukla

UKHRUL, INDIA – A woman police officer stands guard at a polling station as people caste their votes during the second Phase of voting on April 26, 2024 in a village in Ukhrul district, Manipur, India. India’s 2024 general election is set to be the world’s largest democratic exercise, with over 969 million registered voters, more than the combined population of the EU, US, and Russia. The election process, lasting 82 days, will be held in seven phases, covering the entire country from the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean, with an estimated 15 million polling staff and security personnel. The election is expected to cost $14.4 billion, making it the world’s most expensive, with political parties and candidates spending lavishly to woo voters. The Election Commission of India has deployed advanced technology, including electronic voting machines and a Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail, to ensure a secure and transparent voting process.

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