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Surge In Female Contestants, Not MLAs

Saumya Tewari,
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Women gather to vote outside a polling booth in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Two of the four states which went to polls recently had incumbent women chief ministers who registered consecutive victories for their parties, but there was no significant increase in the number of female MLAs elected.

 

Female contestants increased across the four states that went to polls recently—but not legislators—and three times as many women contested in Kerala compared to the 2011 elections, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of electoral data.

 

Two of the four states had incumbent women chief ministers—West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee and Tamil Nadu’s J Jayalalithaa—and they registered consecutive victories for their parties.

 

Increase in women candidates, not MLAs

 

While both the incumbent CMs won, there was no significant increase in the number of female members of legislative assembly (MLAs) elected to the four state assemblies.

 

Source: Election Commission of India, Association for Democratic Reforms

 

Source: Election Commission of India, Association for Democratic Reforms

 

Kerala, the state with the best indicators of gender development, saw almost three times as many women contestants during the recent elections as it did in the 2011 elections. However, only eight of 105 contestants (7.6%) won.

 

A third (33) of female candidates contested as independents in Kerala.

 

West Bengal’s new assembly has six more women MLAs as compared to 2011. Assam’s women MLAs dropped to eight from 14.

 

The number of women MLAs increased by one in both Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

 

Do women leaders give more tickets to women candidates?

 

The highest proportion of tickets was given to women by Jayalalithaa in Tamil Nadu over the past five elections, except in 2011, when more women were given tickets by the rival Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), according to data collated by Gender In Politics, a web-based project that tracks women in politics, using data from the Election Commission.

 

Source: Gender In Politics, Election Commission of India
AIADMK: All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam; DMK: Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam; BJP: Bharatiya Janata Party

 

Source: Gender In Politics, Election Commission of India
AITC: All India Trinamool Congress; CPI(M): Communist Party of India (Marxist); BJP: Bharatiya Janata Party
All India Trinamool Congress was formed in 1998 after the faction broke from the Indian National Congress.

 

Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress gave 15% of its tickets to female candidates in 2016, up from 14% in 2011.

 

The Communist Party of India (Marxist), the longest ruling party in West Bengal, was always ahead of other parties in the state in selecting female candidates.

 

This year, Trinamool gave the highest proportion (15%) of tickets to women candidates in West Bengal.

 

(Tewari is an analyst with IndiaSpend.)

 

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