History Of India Inspirational Stories

Politics, participation and the power of women

Desh Apnayen believes that to change a nation from bottom up, we need to change the way we engage with the country from bottom up. In this blog, we celebrate the women of Bubnal Gram Panchayat in Maharashtra who have set an example for all of us.
These women have taught us that positive engagement with democracy is a powerful choice. It is a choice that creates possibilities and encourages accountability on both sides of the spectrum, citizens and politicians.
We bring you this story via an article published by in The Hindu on 19th February 2016.
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Maharashtra gets first all-women panchayat
By Sharad Vyas
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For 26-year-old Sonali Shahpure, juggling household work with politics does not come naturally. She comes from a family of political non-starters. The political novice borrowed Rs. 50,000 from the local bank to pool money into the village development fund set up by the 11 elected members of the Bubnal gram panchayat in Shirol Taluka, southern Maharashtra. All members who chipped in with their share had one thing in common — they were all women with no political background.
“In the morning, I take care of my family and children and step out later in the day to take care of the roads and drains in my village. Both are my priority now,” said Ms. Shahpure.
The village has taken a lead in women’s political participation by becoming first in the State to adopt 100% political representation for women at the gram panchayat level. Elders of the village, who had decided six months ago to elect these women unopposed to the panchayat feel the group has brought in more transparency and accountability.
The members have pooled Rs. 5.5 lakh as development fund and are now petitioning the State government to sanction an additional special fund of Rs. 25,00,000 lakh for future development works.
“We were fed up of the caste politics and the destruction seasoned politicians caused at the cost of development. So we decided to give all posts, including that of the sarpanch, to women. Each member will become sarpanch on a rotation basis,” said Ulfatbai Afsar.
She said her nine-member council had just begun work on improving health and sanitation and water supply of the village.
To see the article online, please click here.
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India is well on its way to becoming the world’s youngest country. With young women like Sonali Shahpure paving the way for all of us, the only thing that will hold us back from serving our democracy is our own unwillingness.
Desh Apnayen has already started this journey of challenging apathy and turning that to ownership. Join us in our effort to rebuild this country!

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