Empower women at Panchayat level, report recommends

May 19th, 2008 - 9:29 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 19 (IANS) Capacity building and leadership programmes are necessary to empower women at the Panchayati Raj (village governance) level where they often act only as figurative heads while their husbands run the show, says a report by the Centre for Social Research (CSR). The study, conducted in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh over a period of one year, stated that only 26 percent women at the Gram Panchayat (village executive) level in Gujarat could take initiatives to solve local governance issues.

According to the study, supported by the National Commission for Women (NCW), only 24 percent women who were a part of Panchatai Raj institutions in Gujarat wanted to be in that capacity because of their wish to do some developmental work for their villages. The rest were more like figurative heads.

“The awareness level of the Gram Panchayat members was very poor regarding reservation of women in Panchayati Raj institutions and its importance, laws pertaining to women, financial aspects of the Panchayats and issues to be addressed by Panchayati Raj institutions,” the report said.

“Most women expressed the need for capacity building in terms of better educational level and focused training on Panchayati Raj functioning for executing the necessary responsibilities,” it added.

Also, interviews of 25 women representatives and former representatives in Himachal Pradesh found that elected representatives have to disclose their political lineage to get their work done in any government department.

The report noted that in both states the lack of capacity and access to information at the grassroots level make the decision-making process difficult. Reservation of seats for women and other marginalized groups to further the objective of social justice is still overshadowed by caste, class and deep-rooted patriarchal system, it said.

In its list of recommendations, stress has been laid on better transparency and greater accountability of the functioning of the Gram Sabha.

“To ensure greater participation of women, it should be ensured that for passing any resolution, one third of the voting population must be women,” the report said.

Adequate funds and information dissemination, both at the voters’ level of his or her rights and at the representatives’ level of theirs, have also been recommended.

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