Representation of women in Karnataka Assembly seems to be worse compared with the neighbouring states -- Tamil Nadu (TN), Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Kerala.
According to the Election Commission data, in the last three elections held in the southern states, the combined state average of elected women representatives in the Assembly is 2.67 per cent in Karnataka (8 women for every 300 seats), 9.97 per cent in AP, 9.11 per cent in TN, and 5.23 per cent in Kerala. Interestingly, in the elections held in 1957 and 1962, women representatives had a better share in Karnataka. Eight per cent of the total Assembly seats were represented by women.
The percentage of female electors too is less in the state compared with other states.
“Main political parties do not give tickets to women. Even if they do, the parties field them in such constituencies where they do not have many chances to win. Unfortunately, parties claim they have given adequate representation to women,” said psephologist Sandeep Shastry.
Factors such as money and muscle power played a role in elections and women candidates might not be willing to be enagaged in such practices, he said. Though the government, along with Panchayat Raj Department, through various programmes is trying to promote women political leadership and gender governance in India, the move does not seem be yielding good results.
“Politics has become more of a business and contract. Hence, it becomes difficult for women to participate. Representation of women is better at the panchayat level because of the 50 per cent reservation. It is de facto run by the candidates’ husbands and male counterparts,” said Madhu Bushan, a women’s rights activist.
B L Shankar, vice-president of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, said, “Perhaps one of the reasons is that women will not be able to actively involve in politics and they may not be best suited. Most of the women contest at the panchayat level, and they may not be willing to compete at other levels. Women’s reservation has be imposed on parties so that the situation will improve.”