Staff Reporter

BANGALORE: Elected women representatives from as many as 87 taluk federations across the 21 districts in Karnataka met here on Wednesday to officially launch a State federation for women panchayat members. Named Sugrama — Grame Panchayat Chunayita Mahila Okkoota Karnataka, this initiative, led by the Hunger Project, was formally launched by Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Shobha Karandlaje.

This federation will represent the rights and interests of all women gram panchayat elected representatives, and empower them by bringing them together. Speaking on the occasion, Ms. Karandlaje exhorted women representatives to break out of their shell and use their power to make a difference. “How many of you have brothers or husbands who make your decisions for you?” the Minister said, adding that independence in thought and working is extremely important. “Women work harder, are more sensitive and less corrupt, so it is important that you take the lead in your villages,” Ms. Karandlaje said.

Citing neighbouring State Kerala as an example, she implored her audience to read the papers, watch news on television and be aware of the system.

Creating awareness

“For any development — mental or sociological — it is important that you are aware. Such awareness will help you understand various welfare schemes and the political machinery that you are part of,” she said. The initiative aims at educating women representatives to work towards “real development”. The six-hour session included various sessions on local governance and empowerment and a play staged to drive home the message of rural women’s empowerment.