While female voters want crimes against women be given top priority by political parties, for men it is corruption that should get precedence in the next Lok Sabha elections, according to a new survey.
The survey, by Change.Org, an online platform for social change that allows people to start and support campaigns on issues concerning them, found that there was a strong wave in favour of more women candidates.
The online survey was conducted among 20,000 Change.Org users across the country, which included 4,000 women and 16,000 men.
Among a list of 40 issues, most likely to impact the Lok Sabha elections, female respondents ranked crimes against women on top. Men ranked it much lower (at 15th position) on the priority list.
Both men and women respondents said they would vote for women candidates, if equally qualified. They felt women were grossly underrepresented in Parliament despite the public opinion that women were "more likely to hear and connect with issues."
"It is not that political parties do not talk about women's safety in their manifestos. Crime against women is certainly a matter of concern and is an issue, which is raised by all parties, but the problem lies in implementing solutions on the ground," Brinda Karat, Rajya Sabha MP from CPI, told IANS.
Of the 40 issues given as options, women voters felt issues, like education, freedom of choice in religion and freedom to marry out of their choice, needed to be addressed.
Marital rape, female participation in workforce, menstrual hygiene, girl child education, maternal health and infant mortality were also voted by the women as issues politicians must talk about.
Environmental issues, waste disposal, air pollution and forest conservation too were concerns for women going into this year's elections.
But apart from seeing more female participation in politics, none of the issues highlighted by women were given priority by the men. Other than corruption, men wanted politicians to discuss issues like infrastructure, job creation and roads.
As per the survey, 17 per cent of women preferred to vote for candidates based on his/her track record as opposed to 21.9 per cent men. But 56.64 per cent of the respondents said they would vote for an equally-qualified female candidate over her male counterpart.
The survey also showed people wanted to play a bigger role in the democracy that goes beyond just casting vote. Around 57.53 per cent of the respondents wanted to be able to provide public inputs in policy-making via public consultations and meetings, while 55.76 per cent wanted to participate through digital petitions.
However, women were less likely to go for personal meetings with elected representatives and preferred digital petitions for public decision-making.
"Change.org's #SheVotes survey finds that women want to directly engage with politicians but are still uncomfortable with face-to-face meetings. They prefer digital petitions as a significant way of connecting with their elected representatives. The survey also shows gender issues will play an important role in the upcoming general elections," said Nida Hasan, Country Director, Change.org India.
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