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Lok Sabha polls 2024: Despite women representation advocacy, PDP's Mehbooba Mufti sole female candidate contesting from J&K's Anantnag

According to official figures out of the total 86.93 lakh registered voters in Jammu and Kashmir this time, women make up 42.58 lakh electorate or roughly 49 percent.
Last Updated : 18 April 2024, 08:04 IST
Last Updated : 18 April 2024, 08:04 IST

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Srinagar: Despite Jammu and Kashmir’s rich tapestry of talented women leaders, the major political parties, including the National Conference (NC), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and Congress, have fielded no female candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Amidst the predominantly male-dominated candidates from various parties, People's Democratic Party (PDP) president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti is the sole female candidate contesting from Anantnag Lok Sabha seat.

According to official figures out of the total 86.93 lakh registered voters in Jammu and Kashmir this time, women make up 42.58 lakh electorate or roughly 49 percent. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, there were only two women contestants against 61 males. Similarly, in 2014 Assembly elections, out of 831 contestants only 28 were women.

Despite rhetoric advocating for equal rights and representation of women, the reality tells a different story. Since 1967, only three women have made it to Parliament, a mere five times collectively, from the region.

Of the three women who made it to Parliament, two were from Kashmir, while once was from Ladakh. Surprisingly, no woman has ever been elected from the Jammu division. The first woman MP from J&K was Akbar Jahan Begum, wife of NC founder late Sheikh Abdullah.

She represented the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat in 1977 and later contested and won from the Anantnag seat in 1984. Following her, Parvati Devi secured a seat from Ladakh on a Congress ticket in 1977.

Mehbooba won from the Anantnag Parliament seat in 2004 and 2014 and is one of the strong contenders this time as well. The BJP, which holds significant political sway in the region, has never fielded a woman candidate for Parliament polls.

The recent enactment of the Nari Shakti Vandan Act and the provision of 33 percent reservation for women in J&K Assembly have provided women with an opportunity to showcase their potential in politics.

When the provisions of women reservation are made applicable to the Lok Sabha, one or two out of five Parliament seats in J&K will also be reserved for the women.

This absence of women has sparked a wave of discussions and debates across the region, highlighting the glaring gender disparity in political representation.

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Published 18 April 2024, 08:04 IST

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