THP-India Holds Convention for 200 Newly Elected Women Representatives
On June 28th, 2011 The Hunger Project-India gathered 200 elected women representatives (EWRs) in the Eastern Indian city of Patna, Bihar to celebrate the victory of women in their new roles as political leaders. The samellan (convention), held at Taramandal Auditorium in Patna, brought EWRs from across the seven districts of Muzaffarpur, Jehanabad, Rohtas, Madhubani, West Champaran, Jamui and Nalanda to acknowledge their new responsibilities in the public sphere.
The Minister of Social Welfare, Ms. Parveen Amanullah, was the chief guest at the event. She addressed the newly elected representatives and encouraged them to fully realize their rights as elected leaders. She asked that they provide strength to their Panchayati Raj (local democracy) by demonstrating determined leadership in their respective Panchayats. Ms. Amanullah expressed confidence in the EWRs as being armed with enough knowledge and empowerment to run Panchayats and to overcome any political, personal or social hurdles they may encounter. She stressed the important role EWRs can play in ensuring social welfare to every citizen of the Panchayats.
During the samellan, the new EWRs took an oath to strengthen Panchayati Raj Institutions by conducting regular gram sabhas (general assemblies) within their communities. Gram sabhas work towards social justice and equity by fostering an environment supportive of women’s participation in local governance. They also put forward a charter urging the larger Panchayat Raj ministry to develop proper guidelines for conducting gram sabhas. These guidelines would require local governance to hold regular capacity building trainings for EWRs, to strengthen the role of EWRs in politics, to implement policies that are gender-balanced and to ensure at least 20 percent women's participation in gram sabhas. Second-term EWRs shared the need for a stronger federation with the new EWRs and appealed to them to work towards one.
Mr. Raghuvansh Kumar Sinha, former deputy commissioner of Bihar State Election Commission, also spoke at the convention and appealed to the women to use their rights as political leaders to establish a mark of strong women leadership during their tenure, so that the next generation will continue to learn from these inspired women leaders.
The convention provided a platform for the newly elected women representatives to voice their collective identity as leaders of tomorrow, bringing about an empowered system in which women participate in the effective functioning of local governance.