ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Women Voters in India: Empowerment in Times of Democratic Decay?


Kamra Lipika - Queen Mary University of London, School of Politics and International Relations, London, United Kingdom


22 – The present democratic crisis in South Asia: causes, distinctive elements and historical precedents


 The number of women voting in Indian elections has been steadily increasing over the past decade. Women’s franchise is impacting electoral outcomes and political parties have begun to make specific promises about welfare and safety to female voters. Whilst on the one hand, the right to vote provides women with some space to participate in democratic politics; on the other hand, the number of women representatives in the national parliament and state assemblies continues to be abysmally low. Moreover, even as women are voting more, spaces of politics — from political parties to election rallies — continue to be primarily masculine spaces. This paper seeks to discuss the implications of women’s simultaneous participation as voters and lack of participation as politicians. Drawing upon ethnographic fieldwork conducted in northern India, it examines the notions of place, space, rights, and participation that frame the vocabulary of women’s involvement in democratic politics. In doing so, it addresses the wider question: Does involvement in democratic politics represent a form of empowerment for women in India?