Changing Landscape of Women's Rights in India
In early March, the Indian upper legislative body passed a constitutional amendment that would require that women hold 33 percent of seats in federal and state legislative assemblies. While this is the first of many steps before this amendment can become law, The Hunger Project (THP) applauds the efforts of the Rajya Sabha (India's upper house).
If passed into law, this amendment would change the landscape of women's rights in India, where less than 11 percent of elected seats in parliament are currently held by women and women largely lack the political and economic privileges held by men.
Women's empowerment has proven to be an effective tool in poverty reduction. THP has been working to empower women leaders elected to their local village councils (panchayats) in India since 2000. Our Panchayati Raj Campaign has trained over 78,000 elected women representatives to serve as change agents in their communities. Many of these women have gone on to lead campaigns against problems ranging from gender-based violence to malnutrition.
As discussed in an article in The Economic Times, the day when the bill was being debated in Parliament, Rita Sarin, Country Director of THP-India, received several messages from women panchayat members and grassroots workers in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Most of these messages had a common request: "Madam, prepare a new training module for women MPs. You are soon going to see us in Parliament."
This bill not only represents a positive move toward gender equality but an important step toward the end of hunger in India.
Read the article, "Women can manage state funds better: Rita Sarin" in March 28, 2010 The Economic Times.
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Photo: Paul Voorthuis/THP