Strengthening women’s equal participation in rural local self governance (Panchayati Raj Institutions) and address gender issues

Our Strategy
  • Develop capacity and provide handholding support to women elected leaders to actively participate in decision making processes and governing, ensuring democratic leadership.
  • Develop capacity of women voters through self help groups to engage in Annual Action Plan of the Village Council, contribute in implementation and monitoring of service delivery & create strong support base for the women leaders.
  • Engage in a dialogue with male political leadership and elected representatives regarding impact of patriarchy and the role that gender equitable governance could play in catalyzing social development.
  • Prepare the political machine and system to accept, seek and support active women leaders, promote women’s issues through Gender Responsive Budgeting and gender maninstreaming within political party structures.
  • Create a pool of future leaders in the community to create both a supply of empowered women leaders who can govern well as well as demand for these leaders.
Highlights for 2018-19

Panchayat elections took place this amidst a lot of controversy and judicial intervention. It took a while to for the new board to get formed and become finctional.

We held a 2 days workshop with the elected representatives and opinion leaders of 2 Gram Panchayat in Birbhum, Daskal Kareya II Gram Panchayat and Kirnahar I Gram Panchayat. 37 participants were present in the workshop.

Some of the issues identified by the leaders for gender responsive budgeting:-

  • Awareness to address harassment on women to encourage women’s free mobility within the community.
  • Encourage and support women voices protesting gender based violence and discrimination
  • Give importance to women’s opinion and choice in terms of economic endeavours.
  • Provide space to women during decision making
  • Work with women to change their mindset
  • Greater awareness about govt schemes among women
  • Discussion on how to make the budget more gender inclusive
Details of Gramm Sansad Sabha & Voter Participation

As a result of advocacy, Kirnahar GP, Birbhum & Dakshin Gangadharpur GP in Pathar Protima Block formed a committee prior to the gram sansad sabhas and invited the members of Nari Jagaran Committeed to play an active role in spreading awareness about the November gram sansad sabhas and hold neighbourhood meetings to motivate the community to identify needs. 64 such meetings took place in Birbhum and 11 in South 24 Parganas, led by the members of the Nari Jagaran Committees.

District GPs Sansads Gram Sansad Sabhas Voter (F) Voter (M) Total Voters
Birbhum 4 76 55 2369 2213 4582
South 24 Parganas 2 51 23 1152 830 1982
Total 6 127 78 3521 3043 6564

Effective GSS took place in 6 GPs, with women’s participation way higher than male.

Apart from specific demands for inclusion into governemnt schemes like widow and old age oensions, housing schemes, infrasructural improvement like road reparing, concrete road building, tubewell, electricity etc, women particularly raised issues acout ending human & child trafficking, early marriage, domestic violence, illegal liqor, awareness raising on these issues, skill development for livelihood like mushroom, vermicmpost, fish farming, tailoring unit, nursery, job card etc. Building more toilets and creating better lighting in the streetsnd lanes for women’s safety were raised frequently.

Our work with the Gram Panchayat has remained confined to Birrbhum and South 24 Parganas essentially. In Purulia, much of our work is concentrated on mobilizing and strengthening women voters and making them aware of their rights and entitlements

Some Other Results

The elected representatives were actively involved in monitiring services related to health & education. They, and especially the women elected representatives made frequest visits to the ICDS centres, primary schools, VHND camps, 2nd (SHG) and 4th Saturday (health) meetings. 16 women elected representatives (11 from the earlier term and 5 from the new term) remain active with the Nari Jagaran Committees.

Activities Birbhum South 24 Parganas Purulia Total
# Inclusion of issues in GPDP of GPs 6 2 0 8
# ER’s monitoring visits to ICDS 94 0 94
# ER’s monitoring visits to Primary School 96 16 0 112
# ER’s monitoring visits to VHND camp 73 4 0 77
# WER diectly involved with NJC 16 7 23
# ERs remaining present in 2nd Saturday meetings 32 25 13 70
# ERs remaining present in 4th Saturday meetings 50 20 9 79
# GPs supporting campaigns to promote women’s rights through gender budgeting 66.70% 100% 50% 63.60%
Social Mobilization & Institutional development in the community

We work with the community women to strengthen them by activating their understanding of gender equality to enable them mobilize themselves into functional “Nari Jagaran Committees” in order to stand by the side of women facing violence and spread awareness on the issue. These committees are the nodal point where a woman comes with her complaints. These Committees also enable each other and other women to become active voters and demand for their entitlements & accountability from the local self governance . The NJCs also encourage self expression through creation and strengthening of Theatre Groups and any other form that community women bring forward.

Involvement in International Campiagns through national and state level networks

Equidiversity Foundation is an active member of AMAN Glovbal Voices for Peace in the Homes against domestic violence and a state level netwrok against child marriage called Bhabna. This year, on behalf of both the networks, we organized awareness programmes in Birbhum and South 24 Parganas.

We began the month by organising and mobilized the community and the Gram Panchayat to observe the International Campaign to Stop Violence against women and girls’ on 4 December. As a member of an International Network – Aman: Global Voices for Peace in the Homes, this was our opportunity to talk about domestic violence and its impact on children, impact of early marriage and the link between early marriage and domestic violence and the importance of the community action against such acts of violence. The programme met with an overwhelming response as it reached out to more than 350 people, mainly women and importantly 12 out of 18 newly elected representatives and a few elected representatives from an earlier term came to support the issue. Headmaster of Bhajna Benepara Primary School wrote a song on the issue and women sang

On behalf of Bhabna Network, EDF organized a public awareness programme in Nanoor Block, in association with the Kirnahar II and DK II Gram Panchayats. The programmes was enthusiastically supported by the elected representatives at the Panchayat and the Panchayat Samity levels and was also attended by the Officer-in-Charge of the local Police Station and the headmistress of a girls’ high school. the programme was attended by more than 500 women and adolescent girls and memners of the Bhabna Network.

Following the overwhelming support from the community and administration during the Bhabna Programme, Equidiversity Foundation was invited by Kirnahar T.P.M High School for Girls for awareness with the adolescent girls. The programme was attended by more than 1500 girls.

This year also saw 9 members of Nari Jagaran Committee from Purulia, Birbhum and South 24 Parganas participting in two 7 days long residential trainings on “Case Work” and “Mental Health & Wellbeing” organized by Swayam.