With a total of 38 women candidates fielded by the three major parties in the fray, the 2022 Gujarat assembly election promises to be historic for women. BJP has fielded 17 women candidates, Congress 14, and AAP, seven. In the last tripartite contest in 1990, there were 18 women in the fray.
Incidentally, Gujarat was among the first states to initiate women into politics, 103 years ago, on March 13, 1919, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, then a newly elected councilor of the Ahmedabad municipality, successfully rallied support to pass a resolution allowing women to contest elections in Ahmedabad.
Since the first assembly election in 1962, when there were 19 women to 126 candidates including independents in the 2017 assembly elections, Gujarat is yet to see a substantial proportion of women in electoral politics. On average, eight percent of legislators in the assembly have been women since 1962. The proportion of women has never gone beyond a tenth in any assembly.
Gujarat’s first women speaker of the assembly, Nima Acharya, said, “Mostly, a candidate’s winning potential is considered by parties, in which case women candidates have to struggle more than men. Things are changing at the grassroots. ”
The call for more women in the assembly has grown louder this election. The number of women electors in Gujarat has risen to 2. 14 crore in 2022, 3. 45 percent higher than in 2017. The number of male electors grew by just 3.05 percent in the same period.
This July, the BJP announced that it would ensure fair representation of women this election while the Congress in September formed a three-member committee to prioritise women and the youth in ticket distribution.
In the last five elections, the proportion of women candidates in the assembly election has been between 4-7 percent.
Two Prominent Women Leaders in Gujarat:
Before she was elevated as the first woman chief minister of Gujarat in 2014, she was the lone woman in the state over a decade to be made part of the cabinet in the Narendra Modi-led government in 2007. As CM, Anandiben Patel ensured 50 percent representation for women in civic polls. In 2016, Ahmedabad became the only civic body where women councilors exceeded men, by one.
A three-time BJP MLA and a two-time Congress MLA, Acharya is one of the senior-most MLAs in the state. A veteran of Gujarat politics, she joined the BJP in 2007 and has been winning ever since. Earlier, she was a Congress lawmaker from the Kutch district.