A lack of political support is one of the main barriers to women's participation in local government elections, speakers said at a national seminar yesterday, as data show a huge fall in the number of female candidates over past several years.
Parties' reluctance to nominate and empower their female members is seen as a reason for the decreasing participation of women in upazila and union parishad elections, they said.
A paper, presented by Ranjan Karmaker, executive director of Steps Towards Development (STD), said women's participation in the 2014 upazila elections went down by 48 percent compared to that of the 2009 upazila elections.
"In 2014 upazila elections, 1,507 women took part from 458 upazilas, while the figure was 2,900 in 2009," he said, citing from the statistics of Democracy Watch.
STD and Democracy Watch are two of the four alliance partners of a project that organised the seminar, "The Status of Women Representatives in Upazila Election 2014", in the capital's Cirdap auditorium.
Addressing the programme, former caretaker government adviser Rasheda K Chowdhury blamed "money-men-muscle" for women's lagging behind in the race for winning party nomination.
Most of the party posts are held by men, so when it comes to select the nominee, women get less support, said former parliamentarian Rasheda Begum Hira.