Of the 8,048 candidates contesting this year’s Lok Sabha elections, 711 are women, according to an analysis by Ashoka University’s Trivedi Centre for Political Data. The 711 women represent only 8.8% of the fray, but that is still the highest in six decades, and marginally better than the 7.6% in 2014.
The representation of women MPs shows a mixed trend in the analysis. It dipped consistently from 1962 to 1977, after which it has generally risen, with occasional exceptions. Women’s representation among MPs reached 11.6% in the outgoing Lok Sabha, the highest yet.
Among the states and Union Territories, Chandigarh has the highest female representation among candidates this year, at one-fourth. Among the larger states, Odisha with 15.5% has the highest representation. At the other extreme are Nagaland, Daman & Diu, Lakshadweep, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, where no women are contesting.
Among the parties, the BJP and the Congress have each fielded one woman among every eight candidates — respectively 55 out of 436, and 54 out of 421. Smaller parties such as J&K’s PDP (1 out of 2) and Tamil Nadu/Puducherry’s NTK (16 out of 33) have given half their tickets to women. Among the more prominent regional parties, the Trinamool Congress and the BJD have given one-third or more of their tickets to women, compared to just one in 34 given by the NCP. The INLD, IUML and AGP have not fielded any women candidates.