Empowering Women through Participatory Governance
The involvement of citizens in Gram Sabhas is fundamental for community development, however in Bihar, the historical participation of women has been constrained, leading to a neglect of women specific issues in the Gram Panchayat Development Plan. To address this, government support has been pivotal in providing a conducive platform for significant economic growth among women – 50% reservation for women in Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), robust network of women collectives, financial inclusion initiatives and gender-transformative programs. The participation of Self-Help Group (SHG) women in Gram Sabhas was very limited in 2023.
PCI India, in collaboration with JEEViKA Cluster Level Federation, has planned to leverage the platform of Mahila Sabha to increase women’s participation in demanding livelihoods options, access to entitlements, public goods and social development plans. It is actively supporting the Cluster Level Federation (CLF) to organise Mahila Sabha across all 27 Panchayats in the immersion block of Dobhi and Jainagar.
A Mahila Sabha was held on 13th January 2024, in Kurmawan Panchayat, Dobhi block, Gaya, under the leadership of Mahasagar JEEViKA Cluster Level Federation. It served as a platform for Self-Help Group (SHG) women to articulate their demands. The procedural steps involved communication with SHG members, ward representatives, Panchayat delegates, Anganwadi Sevika, and ASHA workers. During the Sabha, 60 women raised the demand for cattle sheds, 30 sought various government entitlements, and 50 demanded Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY). These demands were consolidated at the Gram Sabha, creating a comprehensive representation of the community’s needs.
On 18th January 2024, a Gram Sabha in Kurmawan Panchayat saw a significant turnout of more than 100 SHG members with articulated demands. Women leaders received positive resonance from stakeholders. Panchayat representatives expressed appreciation and committed to prioritising and incorporating these demands into the Gram Panchayat Development Plan and further to be uploaded on the e-Gramswaraj Portal. The Sabha witnessed consensus among representatives from the Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) and Cluster Level Federation (CLF) Didi’s, who agreed to conduct periodic reviews for meticulous monitoring and documentation.
Drawing insights from this experience, the success story of this prototype presents a replicable model that holds promise for implementation across the state of Bihar.
Author: Vikas Kumar (Lead – Strategic Partnership & Systems)
Co-author: Om Prakash (Program Manager – TARDD) , Rahul Sahu (Data Manager – TARDD)
Editor: Ronnie Clive Francis (Manager – KM & Comms)