CHENNAI: The number of women voters, which has been on a steady rise for the past six years, continues this time round also. According to the latest electoral rolls released by Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo, women voters outnumber men in 190 Assembly constituencies against the total 234 constituencies. Similarly, in 35 parliamentary constituencies, women voters outnumber men.
Across the State, there are 3,02,69,045 women voters against 2,95,94,923 men. The increase in the number of women voters is spread across the State. The difference between women and men voters ranges from around 100 to a few thousands in some constituencies. As such, the day is not far away when women voters would become a definite factor in deciding the outcome of the result.
Significantly, the number of women voters is less in Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri and Salem districts and at Usilampatti in Theni district. These districts were notorious for female infanticide practice for many decades and the practice has drastically declined due to the measures taken by the State governments since early 1990s.
Retired IAS officer Sheela Rani Chunkanth, who is known for her active role in eliminating female infanticide as the Health and Family Welfare Secretary, is of the view that the continued lesser number of women voters in the above districts could be a fallout of female infanticide, because the practice existed for so many years.
“When we started a massive drive against female infanticide in early 1990s, the infant mortality rate was very high in many districts including Madurai, Salem, Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri and parts of Vellore district. In Salem district, Edappadi had the highest incidence of female infanticide. At that time, around 3,000 female infants were killed per year by their parents without any feeling of guilt. However, the evil practice has been practically brought to nil through multiple measures. But the impact can still be felt,” Chunkath recalls.
She said female infanticide prevailed mostly due to poverty. “We made the community and family, including the in-laws, responsible for this practice since isolating the mother or father alone did not resolve this issue and it yielded good results,” Chunkath added.
There has been a steady increase in the number of women voters over the years. In 2004, for the first time, women voters outnumbered men in Tamil Nadu. In every summary revision and other special drives of the Election Commission since then, women have been inching towards bridging the gap.
Gender gap narrows
In the 2009 general elections, women outnumbered men in 15 constituencies and in January this year, women outnumbered men in 22 LS constituencies. In the beginning of 2011, the number of men and women voters stood at 2,38,07,959 and 2,35,49,384 respectively — a difference of 2.58 lakh. In the summary revision in November, 2011, the gap between the men and women voters had slightlycome down, to 2.42 lakh.
By the end of 2012, the gap between the both genders had narrowed further to 2.32 lakh when the total number of voters exceeded five crores. In January 2013, the difference came down further, to just 1.45 lakh. When the electoral rolls were out after the special summary revision in January 2015, the gap between the men and women voters was quite narrow — 36,333. During the past four years, the number of women voters has been on the rise, and now, they enjoy a lead in the voter ratio.
Assembly constituencies with more men
Sholinganallur, Harbour, Maduravoyal, Ambattur, Uthangarai, Veppanahalli, Hosur, Thalli, Palacode, Pennagaram, Dharmapuri, Pappirettipatti, Harur, Mettur, Mailam, Tindivanam, Villupuram, Vikravandi, Tirukkoyilur, Ulundurpet, Rishivandiyam, Sankarapuram, Omalur, Edappadi, Salem(West), Sankari, Erode-East, Tirupur-North, Tirupur-South, Palladam, CoimbatoreNorth, Pollachi, Gandarvakottai, Vriddhachalam, Neyveli, Ariyalur, Nannilam, Usilampatti, Tiruvadanai, Mudukulathur, Kanniyakumari, Colachel, Padmanabhapuram, Killiyoor.