Women's Leadership in Panchayati Raj: An Indian Model for Empowerment

India's Panchayati Raj system empowers local communities and promotes direct democracy. Women leaders have made significant strides, breaking barriers and transforming their communities. India's experience offers insights on advancing women's leadership through legal frameworks, capacity building, and inclusive environments. Panchayati Raj aligns with Sustainable Development Goals, focusing on women's empowerment and gender equality. By leveraging the success of women leaders, India aims to inspire action and promote women's leadership globally.

PTI | United Nations | Updated: 04-05-2024 17:02 IST | Created: 04-05-2024 17:02 IST
Women's Leadership in Panchayati Raj: An Indian Model for Empowerment

Describing India's Panchayati Raj as a "sterling example" of direct democracy, India's envoy at the UN has said that women leaders breaking traditional barriers have revolutionised their communities and the country's experience provides invaluable insights on advancing and sustaining women's leadership.

India prides itself on a unique system of rural governance known as the Panchayati Raj, an emblem of decentralised power at the grassroots level, India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj said here on Friday.

''Unlike municipal governance systems found elsewhere in the world, the Panchayati Raj is a sterling example of direct democracy that facilitates active participation from all residents of a Panchayat through the Gram Sabha or the assembly of all adult members of the community," she said.

Kamboj was addressing an event 'Localising the SDGs: Women in Local Governance in India Lead the Way' on the sidelines of the 57th session of the Commission on Population and Development. The event was hosted by the Permanent Mission of India to the UN, Ministry of Panchayati Raj and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

At the event, Panchayat women leaders Neeru Yadav from Rajasthan, Kunuku Hema Kumari from Andhra Pradesh and Supriya Das Datta from Tripura highlighted their efforts towards women empowerment, education and climate action and shared lessons from their journeys to create successful impacts among communities.

The experiences, contribution and success stories of the three women champions in their areas elicited applause and appreciation from the audience at the event that included UN leaders, envoys, think tanks and community organisations.

Kamboj also highlighted that the inspiring narratives of the women Panchayat leaders are not devoid of challenges.

"These women have continuously confronted and overcome the entrenched norms of patriarchy, and stereotypes. Through persistent systemic interventions and unwavering determination, they have risen as pivotal agents of change, challenging the status quo and advancing gender equality," she said.

Kamboj stressed that India's experience ''provides invaluable insights and lessons on advancing and sustaining women's leadership". It underscores the critical need for supportive legal frameworks and policies that advocate for gender equality, robust capacity building initiatives to empower women with essential skills, and an environment that embraces diversity and inclusion.

She said that India's journey with the Panchayati Raj system is a "narrative of empowerment, inclusion and progress, particularly highlighting the strides made in women's leadership." The envoy said at the heart of rural development in India, the local planning process is meticulously aligned with the localisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across nine themes, with each theme primarily focusing on empowering women.

She said notably, the theme of the women-friendly village explicitly concentrates on gender, while all other themes integrate women's welfare into the annual Panchayat development plans.

''Over 250,000 village panchayats engage in this pivotal planning process each year promoting, what we're very proud of, women-centric development.

''The impact of such initiatives has been transformative. Women leaders breaking traditional barriers have revolutionised their communities by enhancing education, healthcare, sanitation and livelihoods, thus directly improving developmental outcomes in their regions," Kamboj said.

She called upon all stakeholders to leverage this moment as a springboard for action.

Kamboj highlighted that in response to the burgeoning aspirations of women across the country, their representation has been elevated to 50% in 21 states within India. Today, of the over 3.1 million elected representatives, more than 1.4 million are women.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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