• WCD government launches skilling programme for women panchayat leaders

    The Central government today launched a programme to skill women panchayat leaders for governance and administration roles. The idea is to train the women on how to use panchayat funds for development of their village.

    Women and Child Development minister Maneka Gandhi and Minister of Panchayati Raj, Rural Development and Drinking Water and Sanitation, Narender Singh Tomar talked to some women panchayat leaders in Jharkhand with the help of video conferencing and told them about the programme. The Union Minister requested the village heads to take interest in it and get trained in the various skills it has to offer.

    “In spite of 33 percent reservation of women in panchayat bodies, the Elected Women Representatives (EWRs) do not have the appropriate knowledge and skill to administer the village and the show continues to be run by their husbands,” Gandhi said in a statement.

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    “Apart from this, the training programme will help to raise these women to the next level of leadership,” she added.

    Other areas that the programme will aim to teach EWRs are how funds are distributed among various department programmes, how to spend it judiciously to ensure that the budget has been used efficiently and the quality of assets ensured.

    Studies have brought forth the challenges faced by women panchayat representatives and the problems faced by them. The conditions and background warrant a support system for women leaders to enhance their capacity, capability and skill in governance and administration,” said Gandhi.

    A Centre for Development and Human Rights report on panchayati raj tells that 73rd Amendment Act, 1992, mandating reservation in at least 33% of the seats of all Panchayat Councils and 1/3rd of the Pradhan (head of the Panchayat) positions for women, was a landmark for women’s political empowerment. It was extended in 1994 amendment when the similar reservation was made legal for Nagar Palikas & Municipalities. And in addition to this, Bihar is the first Indian state to ever make a 50% reservation for women which was followed by Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan & Himachal Pradesh.

    This has led to such an increasing number of women’s representation in Panchayats that today 54% of elected representatives of PRIs in Bihar are women.

    While India can feel proud about the fact that the representation of women in governing roles have increased, the fact that most of these are only present for their face value and that their positions are actually run by the men in their families. This system needs to be done away with and more women need to take charge. For this to happen skilling and mentorship programmes like the one that the central government has begun are a must.

    Picture credit- DNA