The turnout of women in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in Karnataka was an impressive 65.81 per cent, marking the highest-ever participation of women voters in a parliamentary election.
Significantly, the gap between the overall voting percentage (67.28) and the women’s voting percentage too has shrunk, the difference being 1.47 percentage points this time. On the whole, 1.48 crore women exercised their franchise this time.
The previous highest turnout of women voters (64.99 per cent) was recorded in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections. The lowest was in 1980 when only 51.6 per cent of women electors exercised their franchise. Polling percentages of women are separately recorded by the Election Commission since the 1971 Lok Sabha elections.
The gap between the overall voting percentage and that of women has consistency decreased in Karnataka over the last few elections, with the last three elections (1999, 2004 and 2009) having a gap of less than 3 percentage points — 2.59, 2.14 and 2.16 respectively.
Interestingly, while participation of women as voters has seen a consistent rise, their role in the electoral fray has not seen a dramatic rise. Of the 435 contestants in the fray for the Lok Sabha elections in the State this time, 23 are women, which translates to no more than 5.28 per cent of the total.