A 100-year-old woman reached a polling station in Dornapal (sukma district) to cast her vote in the ongoing Chhattisgarh Assembly Elections. The woman, while proving that age is just a number, cast her vote among the thousands of voters early this morning.

Women-friendly booths

For the first time, the Election Commission has set up five all-women polling booths called ‘Sangwari’ booths in various constituencies of Chhattisgarh. This move is all set to encourage women voters to exercise their franchise in the Assembly elections. ‘Sangwari’ means friend in the local dialect in the region. The Maoist-struck Narayanpur area will also see three such booths, where only women will be voting.

An all-female staff including presiding officers, supervisors and security personnel are managing these women-friendly booths. Chhattisgarh has about One crore 85 lakh electorates. Out of this, more than 92 lakh are females.

The move also aims at ensuring gender equality and greater progressive participation of women in the entire electoral process.

States like  Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Mizoram and Telangana will also set up such women-friendly booths these elections

“The Commission has directed that in areas where women feel inhibited in mingling with male members because of some local custom or social practice, a separate polling station for women can be provided after getting the approval of the Election Commission,” an Election Commission official told DNA.

The authorities have been encouraging more women to participate in the electoral process as State institutions have been trying to make voting easier for women. For example, India’s Election Commission has been trying to encourage more women to vote by improving the safety of polling booths to reduce voter intimidation. The authorities have been making the area more convenient by setting up separate queues for women on election day.

More women voters than men in the phase of Chhattisgarh elections

There are more number of women voters this time than men in the first phase of Chhattisgarh elections, as per reports. Over 51 per cent are women, while 48.97 per cent are men out of the total electorate. Total 31,80,014 people are eligible to vote for Monday’s elections. In this count, 16,22,492 are women and 15,57,435 are men. Among the voters, there are 87 people who have listed their gender as “others”.

Chhattisgarh has a total of 90 assembly seats and in the first phase, polling will be held for 18 seats on Monday. Of the seats going to polls, 12 are in Bastar and six in Rajnandgaon district.

Need for more female candidates

Although women voter turnout is on the rise, there’s also a requirement for more women candidates to stand for elections. For instance, in Chhattisgarh’s Korba district the number of electorates is 8.16 lakh of which 4.09 lakh are men and 4.06 lakh are women. However, despite such a close difference, the district hasn’t seen a woman MLA in over six decades.

This time too, not a single woman has been nominated for elections even though eleven of them sought tickets from various parties. So much so that one woman from Pali-Tanakhar nominated herself as an Independent contestant after her party did not give her a ticket. Reportedly, many other women took the nomination forms but never submitted them. The last women elected in the district was Congress’s Yagyaseni Devi in 1962.

The last women elected in the district was Congress’s Yagyaseni Devi in 1962.

When women vote, they also encourage other women making their mark in politics to work towards women empowerment. Women want a say in politics and more voters will remind political parties of their interests and their influence.

Featured image credit: ANI

Also Read: Rise In Indian Women Voter Turnout And Why It Matters

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