The 13th Lok Sabha (constituted following the 1998 general elections) had only 49 women, representing 9.02 per cent of the total 543-strong list of members. But this is the highest representation of women so far in the Lower House.
Though in 2004 elections, the number of women elected to the Lower House again came down to 45, it was the second highest representation of women in the Lower House since inception.
Earlier, women representation in Lok Sabha touched a figure of 40 only on three other occasions - in the 8th, 11th and 12th Lok Sabhas at 42, 40 and 43 respectively. Before this, it was only in 1984 that the women representation was at 40.
Till date, the lowest number of women elected to the Lok Sabha was during the 1977 general elections when only 19 women reached the Lower House. This was only 3.5% of the total Lok Sabha seats (542 at that time).
It is indeed tragic that despite accounting for over 340 million votes out of a total Indian electorate of 710 million people in 2009, women continue to be drastically under-represented in Parliament.
(with inputs from Delhi)
Image: Workers carry a massive cut-out of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati as election campaign reaches feverish level across the country.