Leadership Development of Women Panchayat Members:

The provision of 50% reservation for women in Panchayat Governance in Odisha has provided opportunity for good numbers of women from all sections of societies to occupy different position in Panchayatraj Institutions which otherwise was considered to be men bastion. It gives a sense of feeling that if these large numbers of women could exercise their right in right prospective and responsibility provided in the constitution it will bring out a revolutionary change in eliminating poverty, achieving gender equality and social justice. However many of these women coming to Panchayat Governance were first timers and did have any experience in Panchayat Governance. Some of them even did not visit Panchayat office prior to becoming Panchayat member.

Therefore it was a challenge for the civil Society organization like IWD to build the confident and capacity of women coming to Panchayat so that they exercise their right that has been mandated by law and achieve the objective.

With support from THP India, IWD has been working with Elected Women Representatives (EWRs) in Rayagada and R.Udayagiri Blocks of Gajapati district . The number EWRS and other details is given in the bellow table.

District Block No. of GPs Total Women Ward Members Women Sarapancha
Gajapati Rayagada 18 111 9
Gajapati R. Udayagiri 13 79 7

The capacity enhancement of EWRs is done by organizing structured leadership building training, organizing issue base workshops and interactive workshops with Govt. Officials , organizing District and Block level convention on different issues relating EWRs and women, information sharing and organising Gender Panchayat Resource centers .

The intervention has very positive impact and number of EWRs are emerging as powerful and effective leaders in their locality. As said by Sarita Karjee the Nayab Sarapancha of Mangarajpur GP of Udayagiri Block “earlier people new us as some one’s wife, daughter-in-law, mother, sister etc. But now we have a different identity and we are called Sarapancha, ward member etc.”

The intervention has enabled number of EWR to emerge as effective leaders in their Panchayat . They have done exemplary work for betterment of people in their respective village and Panchayat Their good work ghas been well appreciated the Govt. and other Institutions.

Federation Building :

The EWRs have come together and formed a Block level Federation named as Alibha Federation. Through the federation EWrs take advocacy issues that are inimical to them and to their work. The issues raised through Alibha Federation are repelling two child norms imposed in Panchayat election, , enhancing honorarium for PRI members having rest house with toilet facility for women PRI at Block and district head quarter for women. The federation is campaigning against the practice of domestic violence strengthening district protection cell, campaign against girl child education and child marriage.