Koppavali scripts its own history, elects women unanimously for all local body posts

Seven women including the village panchayat president were elected unopposed at Koppavali village in Lalgudi panchayat union in Tiruchi   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Sometime last week, residents of Koppavali village in the Lalgudi Panchayat Union decided to create history of sorts. They decided to unanimously elect women as their panchayat president and councillors from all six wards.

“Panchayat elections in Koppavali are usually decided by consensus but this time, we decided we wanted to be a model village by electing women,” says K.S.T. Paneerselvam, former panchayat president, who had floated the idea that was accepted by the villagers. “The government has given 50 % quota for women. We decided to make it 100%,” he says.

The village has been working to promote women’s empowerment and decided that electing women leaders would be a good start. “When the idea was introduced to the villagers, they welcomed it and decided to support it,” he adds.

Mr. Paneerselvam’s wife, P. Selvarani, has now been elected panchayat president. “When my husband introduced the idea, villagers suggested that I take up the position. Because it was the will of the people, I gladly accepted it,” she says. Ms. Selvarani says that she comes from a family of panchayat leaders and would ensure that she serves her village just like they did. “My father-in-law, my brother-in-law and my husband were all panchayat presidents. Now, it is my turn,” she says.

The village requires a Primary Health Centre (PHC) nearby, says Ms. Selvarani and promises she will strive to establish one soon. “Travelling to the nearest PHC for the sick or even for pregnant women is getting difficult. We will try to get one closer in the village soon,” she says.

Along with Ms. Selvarani, Kavitha Dhananathan, Mano Dhandayudhapani, Jayalalithaa Dhinakaran, Kalpana Suresh, Gayathri Prabhu and Shanthi Murugesan were elected as ward members for wards one to six respectively. Speaking to The Hindu, Ms. Gayathri says that the response from the villagers was overwhelming. “I always knew that our villagers were supportive but I did not expect all the men to step back and encourage the women. I am proud of my people,” she says.

Ms. Gayathri says that the familial relations women maintain with all villagers would be favourable while serving them. “We refer to everyone as uncle, aunty, sister, and so they will be comfortable if they need to approach us. In fact, they will be able to make demand without feeling awkward,” she says. Women’s issues would come to the fore as the women would not feel embarrassed discussing their needs with us,” she added.

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Printable version | Jun 15, 2021 10:29:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/koppavali-scripts-its-own-history-elects-women-unanimously-for-all-local-body-posts/article30386741.ece

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