A wave of change in Haryana: Despite adverse gender ratio, women show the way in assembly polls

Women voters in Haryana.
Chandigarh, Oct 18:If Haryana broke all previous voting records in Wednesday's assembly elections, women voters had a significant, and almost equal, contribution as their male counterparts.

In four districts - Bhiwani, Jind, Kurukshetra and Mahendergarh - more women voted than men. It was a virtual dead heat in another six districts - Ambala, Kaithal, Sonipat, Yamunanagar, Fatehabad and Hisar. This means that women voters were either ahead or equal to men in almost half of the state.

Haryana recorded the highest, 76.54 percent, voting by the over 16.3 million electorate. The voting percentage for women was 75.87, a tad lower than the 77.11 percent recorded by male voters.

The previous high for women voters was in the 2009 assembly polls at 71.11 percent. The lowest turnout for women voters was in 1968 at 54.33 percent.

"As Haryana set a new record in voting, women too voted enthusiastically," Haryana Chief Electoral Officer Shrikant Walgad told IANS.

In the Ellenabad assembly constituency in Sirsa district, which recorded the highest voting in the state at 89.4 percent, the women's vote share was 88.52 percent. The constituency is primarily rural.

Sirsa district too saw the highest voting percentage among all 21 districts at 84.66 percent. The female voting here was 83.99 percent while 85.25 percent of the men voted.

The lowest female voting this time was recorded in Badhkal in Faridabad district, with just 57.81 percent polling.

"Women coming out in such huge numbers is significant for Haryana which is predominantly a patriarchal society. The state has an adverse sex ratio too," sociology teacher Sandhaya Arora told IANS.

Of the total 1,351 contestants, 116 were women this time.

With a sex ratio of around 870 females per 1,000 males, Haryana's is the worst in the country.

Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his 11 political rallies in Haryana in the run-up to the assembly elections, made it a point to mention the state's dismal record in its sex ratio.

"Haryana is the worst performer among states in sex ratio. Among the 15 worst districts across the country, nine are in Haryana. This is not a good thing. We will have to change this mindset against having girls," Modi said during his rallies.

There is no doubt that women voters turned out in large numbers to be part of the election process and perhaps of change.


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