CAIRO - Muslim women in India's Uttar Pradesh district are leading a new campaign to educate their community about the importance of participation in the democratic process, urging them to vote in their district's looming elections.
"We have been going from door-to-door and making aware Muslim women and girls about the importance of their vote," Noor Bano, a woman, who headed the campaign in Rura village in Ramabai Nagar district, told The Times of India on Saturday, February 4.
The campaign, according to Bano, would help the women in the region understand the structure, procedure and responsibilities of elections.
She affirmed that the voters in the villages have widely supported the cause with several Muslim women joining the group in Bhognipur town too.
"Many got inspired by our confidence when we motivated them to come out of their homes on the polling day," Bano added.
Marking a significant change in the Indian women participation in the democratic process, the veiled women were confident of making women aware about elections.
"People from all sections have all reposed faith in the democratic structure shown tremendous respect when we reached their households," Rehana, another Muslim girl, said.
Polling in the district, located in Uttar Pradesh state in northern India, would be held in the fifth phase on February 23.
The Uttar Pradesh election is being seen as a stepping-stone for the Congress Party to establish a firm political base in India's fifth largest and most populous state before the 2014 general elections.
Reaching out easily to Indian women, women groups were praised for taking the job in a very impressive manner.
"They have enthusiastically joined the election campaign while urging the voters, particularly women and young Muslim girls, to go and cast vote for a better change," Mayur Maheshwari, district election officer and district magistrate, told the Times of Times.
Not only women.
The active groups managed to reach out to Indian men, who generally do not like women to break the tradition and try to assert themselves.
"We also spoke to the male members of the family, who often discourage the women and stop them from going to the polling booths, Yasmeen, another member of the group, said.
Many men came in support and assured us that they would send the women members of the family to cast vote on the polling day.
There are some 140 million Muslims in Hindu-majority India and they have long complained of being discriminated against in all walks of life.
Muslims complain of decades of social and economic neglect and oppression.
Official figures reveal Muslims log lower educational levels and higher unemployment rates than the Hindu majority and other minorities like Christians and Sikhs.
They account for less than seven percent of public service employees, only five percent of railways workers, around four percent of banking employees and there are only 29,000 Muslims in India's 1.3 million-strong military.