For the first time in the electoral history of Uttar Pradesh — assembly or Lok Sabha — women voters have outdone men. The turnout in the first four phases of the assembly elections so far totals thus, men 55.88% and women 60.03%.
Till now polling has been completed in five phases, and the remaining two are scheduled for February 28 and March 3.
EC data on the first four phases indicates women are likely to stay on top till the final phase.
“This is phenomenal. This is historic. It is almost certain that women will stay on top right through the seven phases,” says UP chief electoral officer (CEO) Umesh Sinha.Of the 41 districts, women outnumbered men in as many as 30. In 22 of these 30 districts, the difference in the percentage is higher than 5%. And in eight districts, the difference is more than 10%.
So what was so different this time round? Experts put it down to two factors — extensive voter awareness campaigns by the EC and the skewed male-female ratio due to migration.
Thanks to awareness programmes organised by booth level officers and door to door campaigns by anganwadi workers registered women voters who never saw a polling booth in their lives also came out and voted on polling day.
Other EC strategies such as roping in folk singer Malini Awasthi as its brand ambassador also helped pull in the ladies. Especially noteworthy was the enthusiasm shown by first-time women voters in rural as well as urban areas.
As for the other factor, Sinha said, “Majority of migrant workers are men who did not come to vote. Their women folk, who were here, did.”
The percentage gap between women and men was highest in Sant Kabir Nagar and stood at 13.06%. Women’s turnout there was 61.19% and men’s barely 48.13%.
In only 10 districts, men outvoted women.