Marching Into Male Bastion

Half of the panchayat members in Fatahpur Pakri village in Bihar are women, but
Suman is the only member who exercises her rights/ actively participates in the
panchayat affairs. Panchayati Raj is a 3-tier structure of self-government at
the village, block and district levels. Bihar was the first of 29 Indian states
to offer 50% reservation for women in panchayat election of 2006. As a result of
this reservation, a total number of 73,204 women joined the panchayati raj
system as elected members. The serve in various positions – ‘Zilla parishad’
members, sarpanches/village heads, and village-level ward members. Suman , as a
village-level ward member is at the lowest level of the panchayati raj system.
But her enthusiasm and participation is something that draws everyone’s
attention. Varsha, our correspondent finds this enthusiasm extremely inspiring.
This is because despite being elected to the panchayat, thousands of women work
according to what they were told by their husbands or other male members of
their families. In some cases elected women remained at home while their
husbands attended the panchayat meetings and carried out official transactions
on their behalf. Over a year ago, Varsha organized a workshop for women
panchayat members in Vaishali on women empowerment. Suman was the only woman
member from her village who attended the workshop and share her work experience
with everyone. To Varsha, it was an example of village women trying to assert
their independence and make a significant contribution to the welfare of the
people. According to Varsha, the women village leaders are capable of bringing
great impact in their villages and make crucial contribution to Bihar’s
development. But to make that crucial contribution, they must work
independently. Suman has been able to do that. She has also been able to garner
support of her family and yet stay independent at the same time. As a community
correspondent, Varsha feels sharing such stories of success will help other
women join the league of Suman. 

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I have done my Post Graduate Diploma in Development Communication from Mass communication Research Centre (MCRC) Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi and also holds a Post Graduate diploma in more


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