THP-India Strengthens Capacity of Elected Women Leaders
Update to the Global Board
During this reporting period, The Hunger Project-India was active in 122 blocks of 60 districts in seven states.
Keeping the designated priorities of Elected Women Representatives (EWRs) in mind, THP-India has decided to focus on three thematic areas in 2013. These themes are:
- Ensuring food security and addressing malnutrition,
- Addressing violence against women in Panchayats, and
- Facilitating access to safety net programs for the marginalized, in order to achieve equitable and just development in panchayats.
So far in 2013, THP-India has succeeded in integrating issues of malnutrition and food security into the work of the EWRs in the five THP-India states with the highest levels of malnutrition: Bihar, Odisha, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. In Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand, awareness on malnutrition and food security is generated through need-based workshops, development of information, education and communication materials on schemes and entitlements that secure food and livelihood options, and other program interventions as appropriate.
A significant development in 2013 has been THP-India’s recognition as a critical player in training EWRs in political participation and political rights in India. As a result, THP-India has had a notably active period in building alliancesfor advocacy and action, contributing to the formation of national coalitions, encouraging regular communication among federations and EWRs, submitting input to national consultations on violence against women, and advancing national campaigns to support Indian women’s political leadership.
- Strengthening Women’s Leadership. The Women’s Leadership Program has expanded and intensified throughout the seven program states. In this reporting period, THP-India successfully completed Women’s Leadership Workshop (WLW) trainings in Tamil Nadu. In Uttarakhand, THP-India has initiated the SWEEP (Strengthening Women’s Empowerment through Electoral Processes) campaign, with the identification of potential leaders in the upcoming panchayat elections in the state. Needs-based workshops took place in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand, enhancing EWRs’ understanding on government schemes and processes. Communication trainings held in Madhya Pradesh are increasing confidence among EWRs in interacting with government officials, providing EWRs with essential information to improve their interactions and coordination.
- Federation Building. EWRs have formalized block level federations in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Odisha and Uttarakhand, assembling, at cluster level, federations throughout the blocks. Village meetings for the upcoming elections organized throughout Uttarakhand have led to increased awareness among the citizens, particularly women who have been encouraged to participate in elections. Regular meetings have been held throughout this period, as an effective way to bring EWRs closer to each other and other women, forming strong constituencies, conducting evaluations and gauging achievements and challenges.
- Making Panchayats Effective. THP-India has prioritized the sensitization of panchayat secretaries toward EWRs and their roles in Rajasthan. As a result, THP-India has observed better coordination of work among EWRs and secretaries.
- Influencing Public Opinion. Regular media workshops held throughout the period have increased recognition for EWRs’ achievements, increasing confidence and raising awareness. Workshops have also contributed to eliminating misconceptions of EWR effectiveness.
- Building Alliances for Advocacy and Action. All seven states participated in the One Billion Rising campaign in February  THP-India contributed at the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). In response to diligent advocacy efforts at the national level through the National Coalition Against Two-Child Norm and Coercive Population Policies,  the Health Ministry passed a government order to declare the removal of the Two-Child Norm as a conditional measure for the Janani Suraksha Yojana scheme, a conditional cash transfer program. Furthermore, EWR federations have identified extremely malnourished children in their areas and have referred them to Nutritional Rehabilitation Centers for care at the block level.
One Billion Rising for Justice is a global call to women survivors of violence and their supporters to gather safely in their community to raise awareness for justice and their right to a violence-free society.
Intended to demonstrate the seriousness of the Indian government’s attempt to stabilize population, the Two-Child Norm prohibits the participation of any aspiring panchayati raj (village council) representative that has more than two living children. As a result, the Two-Child Norm restricts women’s political participation, hampers the growth of female political leadership and further marginalizes communities. The National Coalition was formed with THP-India as a coordinating member.