About the Programme
The Ministry of Women & Child Development (MoWCD) has recently launched an intensive training program for Elected Women representatives (EWRs) of Panchayati Raj Institutions.
It will include simple engineering skills to give them an insight into women’s issues as well as focus on education and financial matters.
Awards will be given to the Master Trainers to those who have succeeded in empowering EWRs of their areas.
It is the first ever initiative which will train approximately twenty thousand EWRs covering nearly 50 EWRs from each district (by March, 2018) who will go out and administer the villages professionally.
Aim of the Program?
The program aimed at capacity building of EWRs is being organized by National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD) of the MoWCD.
It will help in creating model villages, ensure their effective participation in governance process and help preparing women as political leaders of the future.
Steps taken for political participation of women in India
73rd (Article 243D) and 74th (Article 243T) constitutional amendment acts mandating at least one third of seats for women in PRIs.
108th (Women Reservation Bill which seeks to reserve one-third of all seats for women in the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies.), 110th and 112th (mandating 50 % seats for women in PRIs and Urban local bodies) constitutional amendment bills were proposed, although they have lapsed.
Bihar, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh have already reserved 50% seats and Sikkim reserved 40% seats for women in local governance.
National Mission for Empowerment of Women (NMEW) for strengthening the overall processes that promotes all-round Development of Women.
Challenges faced by EWRs
The women participation in grass-root political institutions has improved and stands at 37% (all India average). However, there are numerous challenges faced by them like-
Illiteracy & lack of leadership skills which makes it difficult for them to assert or even openly express their opinions.
Due to varied reasons including lack of authority and male domination, even after getting elected most of their work in Panchayats is done by their husbands.
There is a general absence of EWRs from panchayat’s meetings due to discouraging attitudes of the family members.
Due to social myths and prejudices, women lack confidence in self for leading their groups or societies. For example, tradition of remaining silent before elderly members of Panchayats is one of the reasons for women remaining silent during Panchayats proceedings.
There is also a lack of awareness about the structure and functions of PRIs and prior exposure to participation in political processes which hinders the growth and development of women as leaders.
The Capacity building of EWRs is critical to empower women to participate effectively in the governance processes. This will help them assume the leadership roles expected of them and guide their villages towards a more prosperous future.
Need for political empowerment of women
A healthy democracy in India can be established by establishing respect for women’s Human Rights and their right to be heard in the process of decision making.
Further, it may result in India breaking the cycle of poverty as women choose to invest more on health, education and training of children.
Even at international level their participation in ensuring the safety and protection of children and vulnerable sections of populations is well recognized.
With female political leaders present, female citizens engage more in civic discussion and women and minorities are more likely to report crimes committed against them.
Constitution grants equality to women but it is only the community which acts as barrier to empower women through the practices of the community.
To overcome all the above barriers and obstacles and to perform their roles and responsibilities, a professional training is needed for the elected women representatives which is being addressed by the Program.