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Home > News > PTI

Women become force to reckon with in panchayats

March 07, 2007 12:36 IST
Last Updated: March 07, 2007 13:27 IST

Women panchayat leaders have succeeded in enlarging their representation beyond the 33 per cent seats reserved for them in the local bodies with Bihar leading with over 54 per cent representation of women in the village bodies.

As International Women's Day celebrations focus on the issue of empowerment of women, according to latest statistics, the fairer sex has increased its involvement in decision-making at the village level with 9.7 lakh of the 28 lakh elected panchayat representatives being women.

A total of 36.7 per cent of the panchayat representatives are women, according to `The State of the Panchayats,' a mid-term review and appraisal of the panchayati raj system.

Bihar has the highest number of women panchayat leaders at 54.1 per cent, followed by Karnataka where 42.9 per cent of the elected representatives at the village level are women, as on December 1, 2006.

In all states except Goa, where the percentage of women panchayat leaders was recorded at 30.2 per cent, women formed more than 33 per cent of the elected representatives in the villages.

"With every succeeding panchayat election, women have been able to considerably enlarge their representation beyond the minimum 33 per cent prescribed by the Constitution," the report said even as the Bill for 33 per cent reservation of seats for women in Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas has been hanging fire.

The report said while earlier reservations for women were a matter of ridicule, now stories of women being puppets in the hands of male relatives and similar anecdotal accounts have become rare.

"Women have begun to take full charge of their official responsibilities in panchayats," it said.

The selected women representatives have been increasingly ensuring their effective participation in budget preparation and the identification of criteria to guide panchayats to specially prepare gender-sensitive budgets.

"In several states, the impact of two parallel developments, that is, the political representation of women in panchayats and the women's self-help group movement, have dramatically altered gender equations and given women a new sense of self-confidence and self-worth," the report said.

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