Ms. Uma Sharma (Jaipur)
Uma Sharma is a Sarpanch from Chakshu ward in Jaipur.Ms. Sharma has been one of the most active participants of CSR’s climate change and water conservation trainings and has rigorously fused together advocacy and practice development. On being asked about her experience of associating and collaborating with CSR, she enthusiastically replied that her self-confidence and motivation levels are amplified and she put them into use for community benefits. She is informed about her role as a Sarpanch, and urges other women too to become politically empowered. Being from a water-scant part of Rajasthan, she understands the value of water and urges her ward members to be careful users of it. Her active participation and learning from CSR water trainings has manifested in the speedy processes of gully plugging, treating of water resources and construction of trenches and check dams. She particularly imbibed takeaways from the field visits made to Abu Road and Alwar as part of the workshops, post which she implemented a similar pattern of narrow gully plugging in her ward as in Abu Road. After the Alwar visit, she mobilized women and formed the MahilaJagrukManchand further trained women in her capacity as a Sarpanch to increase their motivation levels and advocacy for water conservation. Maintenance of ponds and supplying recharged water for livestock use is also an activity which she oversees. In late 2017, she drafted and submitted a proposal for the construction and revamping of bandhsand trenches which were passed by the panchayatfirst, and later saw ratification from the ZilaParishad. She was able to successfully forge the link of these initiatives with the MukhyamantriJalSwavlambanYojanaand Gram Panchayat Development Plan. She recalls that the local government authorities didn’t pay much heed to her efforts and despite her strong position, her proposals were initially dismissed. However, her perseverance and dogged efforts at raising awareness, mobilizing communities and ability to liaison with pertinent government stakeholders made her a resource. She became a regular at the district collector’s office where she stressed on the importance of these practices, and the greater good of the community. Now the proposal is in its fourth stage of advancement and Umaji is supervising the construction work with full gusto.
These accounts represent the power of a politically aware and empathetic female leader who fought against all odds to implement what she learnt from the CSR trainings. Her self-drive and determination has ultimately paid off as she now leads a grassroots cadre of women into becoming leaders of water resource management.
Ms. Kamal Devi Mandal (Nepal)
She is a Ward Panch from TilathiKoladi bock in Sapatari district of Nepal
Ms. Kamal Devi Mandal hails from a traditional Nepalese household, who secured a ticket in local elections owing to the women’s reservation in the ZilaParishad. Ms. Mandal was victorious by a large margin beating the Ward Chairman. Even then, her husband ‘did not allow’ her to participate in panchayat meetings and hence, would sign documents from home, unaware of her duties as a constitutionally elected member.
When she participated in capacity building trainings on disaster preparedness for its mitigation, she asked the trainers to explain the roles and rights of EWRs and was made aware of her rights and responsibilities, after which began to make small changes to break regressive familial framework that she was bound by. She told her husband that she could not stay within house because she is elected by people as she has to perform her duties from the ward office and that she has to go in the field to solve the problems of her voter. These small steps went a long way as Ms. Mandal along with flood preparedness also fights against alcoholism in her region.
She was successful in making a budget allocation of INR 5,00,000 in her ward from the general assembly of Thilathi Koiladi Gaun Palika. Now she understands her rights and responsibilities and has a higher confidence of what she does. She says, “if we can convince people to understand then we can bring the change”.
Ms. Durga Devi (Bihar)
She is a ward panch from Saharsa, Bihar.
At 24 years of age, Ms. Durga has a very strong mindset which aims to break gender stereotypes and biases. In her family, she has grown up amongst five sisters, and hailing from a traditional setup she was made to feel the vacuum for lack of a son in the house and the presence of a brotherly figure. Her upbringing was a traditional one with limited access provision to girl children – limited education, involvement in household and early marriage. Her husband was a changing point in her life as he was supportive towards her life decisions. A painter by profession, her husband makes 500 INR on a daily basis, and is the primary breadwinner for the family of five, including two daughters and one son.
Ms. Durga Devi is keen on breaking gender notions by providing equal opportunities to her daughters and son, by giving them the right to education. She even sends her children for extra tuition’s, which in itself is telling of her belief in equal education. Her husband also encourages her wishes to be part of ward panchayat and realizes the importance of her role in the community role. The success point of her time during training’s was the knowledge that she gathered from the trainings and increased sense of self-confidence to tackle gender biases within her family, and using it to manage floods as well by gathering the women in her village. Over the years, she has exemplified all of this by her sharing her experiences and thoughts at state and national level consultations.
She has effectively advanced the disaster management agenda of CSR training’s by actively organizing community mobilization drives and engaging with key government stakeholders such as district officers and mayors. Hers is an account of how gender sensitization creates channels of empowerment and consequently enables women to become active leaders in disaster risk reduction.
1. In its multi level and multi pronged approach to garner support of all sections of the society, the Women Reservation Bill department carried out a massive signature campaign throughout the nation. The campaign aimed at collecting endorsements for support to early passage of women reservation bill. It was a nationwide campaign covering every section of the society. The outcome of the campaign was massively successful. This signature campaign, along with provision of display of massive support to the bill, also enabled large scale mobilization of people for women’s political rights. The campaign was successful in receiving more than 30 thousand signed endorsements for the bill, even from the remotest corners of the country. Along with the support from the common people of the country, the campaign was successful in receiving signed endorsements from 42 MLAs including the then chief minister of Mizoram – Mr. Lal Thanhawla, and Mr. A.K. Balan- Minister for SC, ST and BC, Law and Culture, Kerala Government. The campaign shook the national political landscape and it shall not be an exaggeration to give credit to the campaign for bringing the Women Reservation Bill back into the main political discourse of the nation and making it one of the decisive and contested political issues for upcoming general elections.