Women representatives in local bodies hone their skills at governance through training programmes
The Central government and UN Women are supporting a training programme to strengthen the leadership capabilities of elected women representatives to local bodies. Recently, Sagar District in Madhya Pradesh was included in the national programme to train women representatives; the districts of Jhabua and Sehore are already in the fray.
“Women have to play a leadership role not only within the household and decision-making but also for the panchayat,” asserted Aruna Sharma, the Additional Chief Secretary, Panchayati Raj and Rural Development, of Madhya Pradesh. She also stressed that having mahila sabhas prior to gram sabha meetings would enable women to highlight their issues and present them more coherently before the gram sabha. Sagar has 760 gram panchayats and 5703 elected women representatives.
The aim of the training programme is broadly to enable the mahila sabhas to monitor the functioning of the ration shops, take up issues like “safe drinking water, sanitation, education, violence against women, early childhood care and timely payments of widow pensions” with the participation of woman citizens and elected leaders, about “100 gram sabhas are being planned in Sagar so as to strengthen local planning and development.” The programme also envisages helping the women representatives increase their knowledge and skills.
Presently, the training is being carried out in 16 districts of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka for an estimated 57,000 elected women representatives. Thanks to the reservation policy for women in local bodies, the participation of women has increased to 42 per cent, and ensures that they have a say in planning and execution of welfare programmes at the panchayat level.
UN Women in South Asia has been working on the issues of woman in the subcontinent. “We want women to step out of the confines of their homes to vote, campaign and contest in local elections,” says Sushma Kapoor, Regional Programme Director, UN Women South Asia.