Despite tall claims of political parties about women's empowerment, there are barely three 'fairer' sex candidates in the fray for Lok Sabha polls in Jammu and Kashmir against over 70 male nominees. Most prominent among the women contestants is People's Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti who is pitted from Anantnag that goes to polls on April 24. If she wins, it will only be the third time that a woman will be elected to the lower house of Parliament from this state.
National Conference founder Sheikh Mohd Abdullah's wife, Begum Akbar Jahan, became the first Kashmiri woman in Lok Sabha when she won the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat in the 1984 general elections.
Mehbooba, who is daughter of PDP founder and former Union Home Minister Mufti Mohd Sayeed, won from Anantnag in 2004. The women candidates other than Mehbooba in the fray for the ongoing polls can at best be termed 'also-rans'.
The 46-year-old Rabia Altaf, a Kashmiri Pandit woman who converted to Islam after marrying a Muslim from the Valley, has filed nomination papers as an Independent against National Conference president Farooq Abdullah in Srinagar. The voting will take place on April 30.
Another woman candidate, Amrit Barsha, 52, was the Samajwadi Party nominee for Udhampur where she was up against 12 rivals, including Congress' Ghulam Nabi Azad. Udhampur voted on April 17.
There were four more women candidates who filed their nominations although they were rejected or withdrawn later. That includes Ulfat Sabba Ahmad in Baramulla constituency. There are no female candidates contesting the Ladakh Lok Sabha seat. The "land of high passes" votes on May 7.
In 2009 Lok Sabha polls, six women had contested from the state but none won. Five contestants had to forfeit their deposits.
Jahan and Mehbooba, the only women victors in previous Lok Sabha polls, come from strong political family backgrounds and had a fairly easy going in the polls.