Ahead of commencement of general elections, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has announced for setting up 288 all-women polling booths or ‘Sakhi matdan kendras’ across Maharashtra. This is the first time India is experimenting and adopting this idea with an aim to empower women, stress on gender equality, and also increase their voting percentage.
Of the 288 ‘Sakhi matdan kendras’ in the state, 9 will be in the Maoist-affected area of Gadchiroli-Chimur parliamentary constituency. The ECI has called for these booths to be set up in the region despite the tension prevailing there. The constituency is spread over six assembly segments of three districts, Gadchiroli, Gondia and Chandrapur. The initiative is to implant the notion amongst the women that their votes are equally important.
Amgaon in Gondia and Gadchiroli would have three such booths each. These booths will be managed, operated and staffed only by women. Even the cops deployed in these booths for security reasons will be women. Two more ‘Sakhi matdan kendras’ will be set up in Brahmapuri, while only one such booth will be designated in the Chimur in Chandrapur district.
According to the Gadchiroli district information officials, women employees of various departments are being prepared and trained for the D-day of voting. These booths have been selected strategically keeping in mind its distance from the police stations, district administration and revenue offices, in case of any emergencies.
Collector and chief returning officer Shekhar Singh further explained that ECI is looking forward to net the women who are contribute to the falling percentage of women voters. The concept also intends to bring the sex-ratio at par with that of the electoral. “Women are usually not roped in or inducted as polling officials in Gadchiroli district due to its sensitivity. But this time we have busted the myth by encouraging them in this duty. They were apprehensive initially but we have managed to allay their fears. We have posted them in urban set-ups to facilitate their working in a more secure ambience,” said Singh. “Apart from increasing the participation of women in polling exercises, there is also a vision of improving the district’s sex ratio with these initiatives,” he added.
These booths have been deliberately designated at locations that are prime and strategic. ‘Rangolis’ and many other artistic decorations will be used to adorn the booths to make it attractive. The premise in and around these booths are being cleaned up, as assured by the officials. The ECI had earlier ordered the staff to wear pink colored clothes, but eventually withdrew the color code. However, ladies manning the booth and on any kind of polling duties have been asked not the wear any color that is influenced by any political party or ideology.
Title image source: twitter