The 12th Nagaland Assembly had no woman representative while matrilineal Meghalaya had only five.

Things are unlikely to get better as only three and nine per cent women candidates will contest the Assembly elections in Nagaland and Meghalaya respectively on Tuesday.

According to an analysis of the candidates' affidavits by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), out of the 193 candidates who filed nominations in Nagaland, only five are women. In Meghalaya, though the number is a little better at 33 women out of 361, 11 are Independents and political parties continue to "neglect" women candidates. 

This despite the fact that 62 per cent candidates in Nagaland and 56 per cent in Meghalaya are either graduates or better qualified.

"There could be two reasons: women are either shying away from politics or parties continue to prefer men. The top leaders of all parties are men. It could be that they prefer male candidates to contest elections," ADR Meghalaya state co-ordinator Mayferen Ryntathiang told The Telegraph.

"Although women enjoy property rights in the family, it is still the husband who calls the shots at home. But we sincerely believe that men can work for welfare of women if they are sensitive," she said.

Of the 33 women candidates in Meghalaya, seven belong to the Congress, two each from the BJP and the Hill State People's Democratic Party and 11 Independents.

Activists in Nagaland attribute the less number of women candidates to the traditional bodies which are opposed to women contesting elections and taking part in the decision-making process. "Since the traditional bodies play a key role in elections, parties always toe their line," said an activist in Dimapur.

In February last year, largescale violence triggered by protests against civic body polls with 33 per cent reservation for women had led to the resignation of chief minister T.R. Zeliang.

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