Five Muslim-majority districts of Uttar Pradesh elected the most number of female village heads in recently-concluded rural polls, official data show.
While four of these regions picked more women than men, the fewest female candidates won from three Hindu-dominated districts, statistics released by the state election commission on Monday revealed.
Women comprise 43.86% of the nearly 58,000 candidates who were elected pradhans, or village heads, in the polls for which votes were counted on Sunday.
Four of these Muslim-majority districts are in western UP, while another is in the eastern part of the state.
The elections were held amid worries of communal polarisation after a mob killed a Muslim villager in Gautam Budh Nagar district in September over rumours that he slaughtered a cow.
In four of the districts where Muslims are in a majority -- Sambhal, Rampur, Badayun and Moradabad – winning women candidates outstripped their male counterparts, while in Bahraich they were almost even.
Sambhal topped the list, electing 54.5% female pradhans. The district also has the largest Muslim population in the state, at around 55%-60%.
On the other hand, Agra, Mathura and Hatharas, emerged as the three Hindu-dominated districts that elected the lowest number of female village heads. Mathura elected only 36.7% female pradhans and occupies the bottom rung.
State election commissioner SK Agrawal said the overall numbers of women’s representation are significant.
“Against the 33% reservation for them, as many as 43.86% women have been able to get elected pradhans in the state,” he said. ”It is a very positive sign that will significantly contribute to women’s empowerment in the state.”