Islands of women Few women contest assembly polls and even fewer win

The verdict is out: of the 690 newly elected MLAs across five states, only 55 are women. That's three short of the tally from the last assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Manipur, Punjab and Uttarakhand.

It's not surprsing that female participation is scarce. Voters rarely have the option even to vote for a female candidate. Most women candidates lose so badly that they end up forfeiting their deposit. What happens if we exclude those seats from the electoral map? What would these states look like then? Islands — “Islands of women.”

This is Uttar Pradesh with all of its 403 constituencies.

If you only include constituencies where at least one woman contested in 2017, this is what UP would look like.

That's just 260 constituencies out of 403.

Aligarh

Mathura

Lucknow

Kanpur

Jhansi

Allahabad

Varanasi

If you include only those seats where female candidates secured a significant vote share (and didn't forfeit their deposits), swathes of land start to disappear.

That's 89 constituencies out of the 403.

Asmoli

Mahmodabad

Unnao

Jhansi

Allahabad

Chakia

If you just stick to the 40 constituencies where women won, UP is reduced to scattered islands.

Bijnor

Bahraich

Unnao

Ghazipur

Rath

Allahabad

Low female participation isn't a problem in Uttar Pradesh alone. It's worse in the other states that went to the polls in 2017.

Total number of constituencies in UP, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur

690

Constituencies where women won

Constituencies where women had a significant vote share

55

132

Total number of constituencies in UP, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur

690

Constituencies where women had a significant vote share

Constituencies where women won

132

55

Punjab

All 117 assembly seats

Seats where atleast one woman contested: 51

Seats where women had a significant vote share: 24

Seats where women won: 6

Manipur

All 60 assembly seats

Seats where atleast one woman contested: 10

Seats where women had a significant vote share: 3

Seats where women won: 2

Uttarakhand

All 70 assembly seats

Seats where atleast one woman contested: 38

Seats where women had a significant vote share: 13

Seats where women won: 5

Goa

All 40 assembly seats

Seats where atleast one woman contested: 12

Seats where women had a significant vote share: 3

Seats where women won: 2

Source: Election Commission of India (ECI), Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR)