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|January 15, 1998||
Women face stiff battle in Lok Sabha
Forever on the fringes, women in all Lok Sabhas have always remained below eight per cent of the total strength of the House.
The highest figure of 44 per cent was attained in the eighth Lok Sabha when women stood at 8.1 per cent in the 544-member House. The lowest was in the sixth Lok Sabha when only 19 women sat in the House constituting a mere 3.4 per cent.
As such the representation of women in successive Lok Sabhas has always remained low. And even in the last election only 39 women were elected, bringing their total strength in the eleventh Lok Sabha to 7.18 per cent.
The expectations raised by the entry of 22 women in the first House and hopes of them making quantum jumps were soon belied. For, in the fifth House, they were once again back to this figure representing a mere 4.2 per cent in the 521-member House. In the second House their number stood at 27, in the third at 34 and in the fourth at 31.
There were 28 women in the seventh House, 27 in the ninth and 39 in the tenth, very low numbers which have always left them seething and dissatisfied, leading in the the demand for one-third reservation.
In the 1996 election, the largest number of women contestants and winners were from Uttar Pradesh. Of the 107 contestants, nine were elected.
In Andhra Pradesh, 90 women vied for the total of 42 seats, but only three won. Next was Madhya Pradesh where 75 women contested for the 40 seats and five managed to win. However, in Karnataka, women faced stiffer battles with 71 women fighting for 28 seats and only one making it to the House.
In West Bengal, only four of the 21 women who entered the fray were successful. In Rajasthan, too, only four of the 25 women fighting the election were victorious.
In some states -- Karnataka, Haryana and Punjab -- only one member was elected. In some others, such as Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir no women was elected. From Gujarat, Maharashtra, Orissa and Delhi there were just two women representatives.
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