To help them fight human right violations, gender inequality and caste bias
SALEM: Social activists and legal experts sensitised village presidents on gender disparities, their legal rights and the issues that confront them while discharging their duties.
The presidents were confronted with several rights violations in which they themselves became the victims. Gender equalities, caste discrimination, insecurity, threat to lives from land mafias and caste groups while managing common village resources for collective usage and environment protection in immediate neighbourhood after the Special Economic Zone were some of these issues the presidents were facing, they pointed out.
Legal advice had become imperative for them in today's senario, particularly after the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme in villages.
Lack of knowledge had allowed vested elements within the offices of Panchayat to take upper hand and exploit the presidents particularly women and dalits.
This, the speakers pointed out, would invariably lead to the use of Section 205 of Tamil Nadu Panchayat Act, which empowers District Collector to remove presidents from the posts.
Tamil Nadu NGO Alliance for Empowering Panchayat Government in association with some of the NGOs such as Village Reconstruction and Development Project (VRDP), Salem, SIRD, Madurai and HRF, Chennai, conducted a workshop here on Friday in which the presidents were made to be aware of their legal and human rights.
The skills and knowledge would be imparted through a series of discussions, seminars and workshops, they said and added that the presidents were told of their constitutional rights also.
Salem District Council Chairman K Shanmugam; NGO Alliance Organiser M Jeeva; Advisor, Federation of Women Presidents, A. Gandhimathi; VRDP Director A Ranganathan; Director, HRF, Ossie Fernandez; and M Vasudevan spoke on different topics. Many village presidents attended the workshop.