7.1 Nearly fifty percent of the total population in the country are women. It is, therefore, essential that they participate in large numbers in the electoral process.
7.2 In the electoral process, persons irrespective of gender status can contest the elections for general seat in the Parliament and also elections to local bodies. During the last general elections to the Parliament in October, 2001, 38 women contested in 46 general constituencies. Of them 6 won seats. One woman won in all the 5 seats she contested. Another woman won 4 seats out of 5 she contested. Besides, there are reserved seats for women candidates in the local level elections. But women participation in the electoral process has been found to be discouraged by a number of factors. Conservative women feel hesitant to meet male registration personnel due to social and religious restrictions. Potential violence and absence of convenient transportation system, especially in the rural areas, also discourage women from participating in the electoral process.
7.3 For the convenience of women voters, electoral rolls are prepared separately for them and separate polling booths are set up in the polling centers. Women polling personnel are generally appointed to help women voters go about meeting voting formalities in the polling station. Deployment of women security personnel and magistrates in and around the polling centers are preferred, so that women voters can cast their votes without intimidation, fear and hindrance. Extensive voter education programme for large-scale female participation is also conducted. All these steps have resulted in noticeably large turn-out of women voters in large numbers.
7.4 What is needed to attain their extensive participation in exercising suffrage is to motivate them adequately through education while creating a reassuring environment in which female voters can come to the polling station and cast their vote without intimidation and fear.