Women's Day: Data shows importance of women voters in 2019 polls

A narrowing gender-gap in voter turnout illustrates the important role women, as a constituency, will play in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. 

The 2014 Lok Sabha elections were a high point for female voter participation, with a historic narrowing of the gender-gap in voter turnout becoming evident. The male voter turnout at 67.09 per cent stood at just 1.79 percentage points above the female voter turnout at 65.30 per cent. This was the narrowest difference recorded between the two figures till date for general elections since 1967 (see table below).   

On International Women's Day 2019, it would be pertinent to look at data and statistics provided by the Election Commission of India for past general elections to see how women voters have fared and their increasing influence in Indian politics.  

Source: PIB release and Election Commission of India data 


Some key observations can be made from the above figures. In 2004, the difference between male and female voter turnout stood at 8.36 percentage points. In 2009, it stood at 4.42 percentage points. Finally, in 2014, it stood at 1.79 percentage points. 

Compare this to the trend in past elections. In the 1967 Lok Sabha elections, the female voter turnout stood behind the male turnout by 11.25 percentage points -- the highest margin of difference recorded till date for any general election for which such data is available. From then till the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, the difference remained considerable, with the exception of the election that followed the then prime minister Indira Gandhi's assassination in 1984.   

A state-wise breakdown of the male and female voter turnout for the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 also paints an interesting picture. The female voter turnout in percentage terms was higher than the male voter turnout in 16 states and Union Territories, or just shy of half (46 per cent) of all states and Union Territories. These states and Union Territories were Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chandigarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Lakshadweep, Manipur, Meghalaya, Odisha, Puducherry, Punjab, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, and Uttarakhand.

Source: PIB release and Election Commission of India data 



What this doesn't mean   

The above figures don't mean that more women than men are voting in absolute terms. 

The first thing to consider is India's sex ratio, which stood at 940 females per 1,000 males in the Population Census of 2011

The second is the difference between the absolute number of male and female voters. The total male electors in 2018 stood at 457,948,392, while total female electors stood at 421,141,073, with the difference between the two at 36,807,319 in favour of males. This boils down to there being 8 per cent more male voters than female voters on the rolls of the Election Commission, as of 2018.  

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