The figure was met with dissatisfaction by women’s rights activists.
They demanded that the 50 parliamentary reserved seats for women be contested in a direct election rather than through a party vote. However, their demands were not met during the polls for the tenth parliament.
In 2008, the Election Commission instituted a new rule that required all registered parties to ensure that 33 percent female participation in committees. But no party has come close to matching that figure in the past ten years.
Barring two years of emergency rule, women have been the heads of government and the opposition for over two decades. A woman has also been the speaker of the last two parliaments. But the participation of women in the legislature has increased at a very slow pace.
Only two female candidates contested the first parliamentary election in 1971. The number of female candidates in the ninth and tenth parliamentary elections stood at 64 and 30 respectively.
While 118 women had initially received nominations to contest the Dec 30 polls, the final number of female candidates was eventually whittled down to 68.
A total of 1,848 candidates are vying for the 300 parliamentary seats in the upcoming election, which includes 99 independent candidates and 1,749 party candidates. Female candidates make up only 3.68 percent of the total.
“The increase in the number of female candidates is positive,” Nasimun Ara Haque Minu, president of Bangladesh Nari Sangbadik Kendra, told bdnews24.com.
“But the rate at which it is increasing is not promising. We hope that political parties will fulfil their commitment to ensure greater female participation in the political process