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Women voters may change the direction of Gujarat polls

As the campaign for Gujarat assembly polls is in full swing every political party, be it Congress, BJP or Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), is trying hard to woo women voters.

Mitali Gautam |

Congress and AAP have started raising the issues of women’s security, inflation which have a direct impact on housewives among others. As D-Day is approaching BJP has geared up its Mahila Morcha with Samvad Sankalp and Satyanarayan Katha.

As the campaign for Gujarat assembly polls is in full swing every political party, be it Congress, BJP or Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), is trying hard to woo women voters. With barely a few days left for the polling, the parties are going all out to attract the women who form 50 per cent of the electorate that consists of 38 per cent of girls in the age group of 18-20.

Congress and AAP have started raising the issues of women’s security, inflation which have a direct impact on housewives among others. As D-Day is approaching BJP has geared up its Mahila Morcha with Samvad Sankalp and Satyanarayan Katha.

Despite being an industrial and manufacturing hub, women’s participation in regular employment in the state, particularly in its manufacturing sector, has been poor. In fact, women are suffering due to lack of job opportunities in the state. The lower than average participation of women in the economy might be indicative of a failure of manufacturing-led growth in the state to engage women in production process.

It is said when it comes to the ground reality of everyday problems, women in the family are affected the most as they manage the budget of the house, whether it’s the hike in cooking oil prices, or increasing gas prices. Women have been finding it difficult to manage the daily budget in the state. Potable water crisis in the rural areas hits the women hard.

These issues can change the direction of the elections and prove a game-changer for parties at the hustings. Urban and rural Gujarat have different issues that affect women directly or indirectly.

Women’s safety and security is major issue all around the country. The perception is that Gujarat is safe for women, but according to National Crime Record Bureau, 8,028 incidents of crime against women took place in 2020, which came down slightly in 2021 with 7,348 offences registered in the state in two years, 2020 and 2021. A total of 3,796 rape cases have been registered in the state on an average of five cases daily. This shows that women are not safe in the state.

The dairy sector is very strong in the state. Women contribute significantly to the sector. It took many years for the women in Gujarat to be part of a dairy cooperative that can ensure women’s empowerment.

With almost a 4 per cent rise in women voters in Gujarat they are no longer considered key factor. But they have the potential to swing the votes which might change the game which is why the political parties are on the rush to capitalise on the concept of women empowerment.