Women in India are voting now more than ever. In fact, today in most states, the female voter turnout is surpassing that of men. Evidently then, we are a politically conscious lot. But how do we vote and what do we want from the people we vote for? Femina has the answers. In a survey of select female millennial voters, from different metros, women reveal their preference for electronic voting machines, an online voting system, and candidates without a criminal history. We also get five women to speak about their concerns and how they’d like the next government to tackle them.
Political parties and analysts rarely see eye to eye. But the one thing they agree on is that women will decide India’s 2019 elections. Not surprising, since we already made history in the 2014 general elections by greatly narrowing the voter turnout gap between men and women (female voter turnout rose to a historic high of 65.5 per cent as against 67 per cent for men) and electing an all-time high of 61 women leaders to the lower house. And, if our survey of over 100 millennial women from metros— Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Pune, and Ahmedabad—is anything to go by, millennial women are raring to vote again. Almost 64 per cent of registered voters said they will be voting in the upcoming elections and 34.3 per cent stated that they were first-time voters.
Shriya Pilgaonkar, ACTOR
#FUTUREFOCUS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Development has to go hand in hand with sustainability, especially when it comes to preserving the ecosystem of our cities. It has become incredibly convenient to chop off trees and build metros, but people need to be held accountable for illegally encroaching forest land or cutting trees. We want to build smart cities, but how about building green cities as well? A recent news article quoted a study which found that Mumbaikars’ lung function is 35 per cent lower than residents of similar cities in western countries. No prizes for guessing, the main culprit is environmental pollution. Why then don’t we see any focus on building a sustainable development policy? What is the point of development if we cannot so much as expect clean air and green spaces? We need a strict policy from the central government that cannot be modified as per the convenience of state governments and municipal corporations. It all comes down to awareness and accountability. We need to act fast.
If there is one lesson to be learnt from disasters like last year’s Kerala floods is that we cannot take nature for granted. Governments have set up various committees to suggest measures to arrest widespread ecological devastation of already sensitive areas. But are the suggestions of these committees ever implemented and, if yes, to what extent? As citizens, like we have the right to life, we deserve a right to open spaces and clean air as well.
It breaks my heart when I hear of people hurting a wild animal when they think the animal is encroaching their space, but we forget that we have ruined their habitat. Development is not just construction—it’s preserving a balance of the ecosystem.
RITABHARI CHAKRABORTY ACTOR
EDUCATION FOR ALL
Surprisingly, notwithstanding all the political ruckus over electronic voting machines, a thumping 62 per cent trust them. Clearly, the government has driven home its point of the advantage of going digital well, since a whopping 68.5 per cent of the women are in favour of taking the voting system online.
When it comes to the voting procedure and the None of the Above (NOTA) option though, the millennial woman is fairly divided in her opinion. While a majority, 52 per cent and 55.6 per cent, to be precise, say they find the voting procedure straightforward and hassle-free, and that NOTA is a viable option for those who disapprove of registered candidates, a little over 20 per cent disagree on both counts.
I would like the next government to focus on strengthening our education system. The government must especially make an effort to make education accessible to underprivileged women. Lack of education is the root of all evil and can hinder major empowerment projects, which is something I have seen first-hand, as my mother and I have adopted a village called Bastala in West Bengal’s Jhargram district.
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