Assembly polls of J-K witness increased women's participation

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Jammu, Dec 4 : There has been an increase in the number of women participating in the seven-phased assembly elections of Jammu and Kashmir. However, it remains to be seen whether the 36-year-old record for the highest number of women in the Assembly would be broken.

It was in 1972 that four women were elected to the state legislature, which still remains the highest figure for women MLAs in the State.

First three phases of elections have already been held in the state in which as many as ten women candidates were in the fray. A large number are expected to contest in the remaining phases.

Shilpa Verma, a woman candidate of Bishnah Legislative Assembly Constituency, going to polls in the seventh phase, said that women understand the problems of fellow women and their participation should be encouraged.

"I went to this village and the women narrated their problems to me. They said that the leaders don't come to us and no one has ever tried to reach out to us. I said that I will listen to you and I will help you out," said Verma.

The third phase of the assembly elections that took place on November 30 saw the participation of five women in remote Kupwara district out of the total 71 candidates.

The fourth phase of the assembly elections scheduled to be held on December 7 would witness ten women in the electoral fray from four districts of Baramulla, Budgam, Reasi and Udhampur.

Though the numbers are increasing, woman aspirants like Geeta Thakur, said that the promised 33 per cent reservation to women has not been kept.

"We were promised 33 per cent reservation in the organizations (political parties) also, but that has also not been fulfilled. Even in the state executive body, they have included one woman. The working committee formed by them has around eight to ten women, that doesn't complete the 33 per cent quota," said Thakur.

The landmark 2002 Assembly elections in the state witnessed the highest number of female candidates at that time with 27 women contesting polls, but the rate of success was a dismal two MLAs.

How much trust the voters would have reposed in women candidates during the current elections would be known only on December 28 when counting of votes would be taken up. By Nadeem Khan

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