GUWAHATI,INDIA.
More than three lakh women voters will play a key role in the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) election scheduled to be held on June 19.

According to the Assam State Election Commission, a total of 7,06,687 voters will exercise their franchise in the GMC polls and out of the total number of voters, 3,40,602 are female.

In a bid to woo women voters, who comprise almost half the electorate, every major political party has given party tickets to about 50 per cent female candidates. Of the 31 seats of ward councillors, 10 are reserved for women, while 28 of the 90 area sabha seats are reserved for the fair sex as well. Apart from fielding female candidates from seats reserved for women, Congress, BJP and AGP have chosen female candidates for many unreserved seats too.

"Today, women can compete with men at all levels. In the GMC election, our party has given around 50 per cent tickets to female candidates. Women are more concerned and serious about civic issues and we are hopeful that the female candidates will make their presence felt in the elected body of the municipality," said senior BJP leader and Guwahati MP Bijoya Chakraborty.

"Our women activists are toiling hard and seeking votes in the hill and plain areas of the city," the BJP MP said.

AGP working president Atul Bora said that the party has chosen female candidates for half the seats of ward councillors and area sabha representatives. "We have full confidence that the women candidates will make AGP victorious in the GMC polls," Bora said.

Congress candidate for GMC ward number 20, Anima Deka, said she will concentrate on solving the civic woes of the people, if elected. "If I win, I will be available for the people round the clock. Women understand the requirements of the city better because they manage the family," she said.

Jumi Kalita, a female voter of GMC ward number 1, said, "Installation of street lights and frequent patrolling by police personnel in city streets to enhance security for women are issues that should be addressed by women representatives. There should be a scientific drainage system across the city so that garbage does not clog the water channels," she added.

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This is encouraging news and hopefully a model for the rest of the country. Women have enjoyed positions of political power in India's past and so I have reserved hope that those women elected will have some positive influence over policy outcomes. The recent rape attacks have gained international attention but they only speak to part of the broader issue of women's rights in India. Progressive legislation and social change must prevail also in the areas of dowry, class violence, inheritance, health and workplace rights.

Let's hope that these moves in the GMC elections are a step towards social justice and reform in India's institutional treatment of women.