The number of women candidates for the Lok Sabha elections has seen a steady rise during the past 15 Lok Sabha elections. But the numbers are far too less when compared to men.
In the 1957 LS elections, only 45 women candidates contested and of them, 22 were elected. The number rose to 599 in 1996 Lok Sabha elections and among them, 59 were elected while 441 forfeited their deposits.
In 2009 LS elections, 556 women contested and in 2004, only 355 were in the fray. It was in 1980, the number of women contestants crossed the mark of 100.
When compared to the number of men candidates, women are lagging behind. Till 1985, the number of women candidates was 30 times lesser than men. But from 1989 onwards, the number went up.
In Tamil Nadu, the number of women candidates from 1967 varied during the elections held over the decades. Of the 67 candidates contested at national level in 1967, five were from Tamil Nadu. In 1971, only two candidates contested from the State while four were in fray in the elections held in 1977.
In 1980, of the 143 women contested at the national level, six were from Tamil Nadu. The number came down to five in the next LS elections held in 1984. In 1989, 11 women contested from Tamil Nadu. The number went upto 15 in 1996.
But in the next general elections in 1998, only 13 women contested from the State. In 1999, the number went up again to 17. In 2004, the number rose to 23 and in 2009, the highest ever number of women candidates (48) contested from Tamil Nadu. The present Lok Sabha has 10.86 per cent of women membership. The lowest number of women elected to the Lok Sabha was in 1977 when only 19 women won the polls. As many as 70 women contested in that election.