2014 India Elections: The power of ‘Womaniya’

Posted: April 4, 2014

When women form 49% of India’s population, why are only 11% of registered voters women? Here is why women must vote in the 2014 India elections.

2014 is the year of General Elections in India. If you have your ears and eyes open or even half-open, you’d have heard some news/updates/ tidbits around the upcoming elections, the candidates, the drama, the fun and not-so-fun campaigns, the implications, the trends, the public debates (and wars), the grand marketing initiatives, the social media buzz and fizz, et al. – all in the race to the victory stand!

After all, the Winner is the Winner. And political power in a democracy is a supreme one. And 5 years of power is a long, long time.

But who makes a winner in a democracy? Evidently, it is the PEOPLE.

So, did you know?

  • More than 814 million people will be eligible to vote in the world’s biggest democratic exercise
  • As per currently published data on the demographics, 49% of India’s voters are women
  • And when I last read, only 11% of the total registered voter base was women.

The math does not quite add up.

If India is indeed a democracy and everyone has a right to vote, then why would women not exercise their vote?

  • Is it their choice or because they lack choice?
  • Or Is it because they don’t know that their vote counts and makes a difference?
  • Or is it because they don’t consider any candidate / party worth of their vote?
  • Or because it does not figure in their priority list?
  • Or Is it because they don’t know where to go and how to vote?
  • Or Is it because they don’t care?
  • Or Is it because they’ve given up hope?
  • Or is it all of the above and more?

It is possibly all of the above, and a lot more.

Now, let’s look at some more data and statistics.

  • It is estimated that more than 10 million female fetuses have been illegally aborted in India
  • UN statistics indicate that in India, a woman dies in childbirth every ten minutes
  • The number of women India loses due to pregnancy-related issues in one week in India is more than in all of Europe in a whole year
  • 1 woman is raped every 21 minutes in India
  • 1 woman is kidnapped every 14 minutes in India
  • In India every 3 minutes a woman goes through domestic violence
  • A dowry death occurs every hour, A bride is burned every 90 minutes (NCRB; 2010)
  • 36% of Indian women are chronically undernourished and 55% are anemic
  • India has the highest rate of child malnutrition of all middle-income countries and the second highest rate in the entire world
  • As per 2011 census, female literacy is 64.64% as against 80.89% for men
  • Women make 19% of the Indian workforce but constitute 32% of the informal economy
  • Only 1 in 3 executive positions in corporates are occupied by women
  • Save the Children’s annual State of the World’s Mothers table on ‘the best place to be a mother’ places India 73th out of the 77 middle-income countries listed
  • As of 2012, women in Indian parliament constituted barely 10.9%. India is ranked the lowest when it comes to women’s participation in politics.

Sources: 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_foeticide_in_India ; http://www.jaagore.com/download?filename=sites/default/files/Power-Of-49-Manifesto.pdf ; http://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2014/03/nation-failing-make-women-children-count-shabana-azmi/

Not a pretty picture, right? So what can really help the cause of women?

More men and women taking up the cause of girls and women – in politics, in the corporate world, in society at large and within the four walls. From small, everyday issues to the larger issues of life. And definitely not for a day or two, but for the long haul and to make India a better place for the women of tomorrow. A mind-set transformation, an ecosystem transformation and a societal transformation is indeed the cry of the day!

Women of today definitely need a better tomorrow. Children of today definitely aspire for a better tomorrow – better in terms of basic needs (food, shelter, sanitation, clothing), safety, health and medical care, education, infrastructure, governance, laws, policies and opportunities.

But most importantly, women need to be accepted and celebrated – for what they are, for their strengths, for their skills, for their rights, for their power, for the difference they make every single day in the lives of others!

Agreed that many of the issues listed above are complex and far beyond the control of most average Indians. But if you had the chance and could make a difference, would you?

If you said yes, then,

Cast your vote, and help/enable/make all women around you cast their vote.

It makes a difference because if the right people/parties are in power, and they focus on the right things – It will surely be a harbinger for positive change.  It will take time, but any meaningful change starts with one step in the right direction.

If you are wondering how, here are some guidelines:

1.   Check if you are a registered voter. Click here to verify

2. If you are not registered, click here to register

3. Mark the date on your calendar to vote. Election dates are from 7 April 2014 to 12 May 2014. To check the voting schedule for your state, click here

4. On the day, cast your VOTE

5. Spread this message.

Additional Readings on the 2014 Indian Elections

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_general_election,_2014

http://www.ndtv.com/article/list/election-2014/

http://ibnlive.in.com/general-elections-2014/

http://blogs.reuters.com/india/2014/03/05/facts-and-figures-for-the-2014-general-election/

http://www.jaagore.com

Pic credit: UN Women (Used under a CC license)

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