New Delhi: The Quality Council of India (QCI) organised a one-day National Training Programme for Women Sarpanchs recently in New Delhi. The training programme was designed to empower approximately 50 women Sarpanchs from 10 States and UTs of the country, which are Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh. The goal was to equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively lead their villages. Additionally, the programme aimed to provide these women leaders with valuable insights into rural development and governance, thereby contributing to the nation’s development.The Sarpanch Samvaad Initiative, envisioned by the Chairperson of QCI, Shri Jaxay Shah, aims to create impact at the grassroots level by empowering Sarpanchs across India. A significant step in this initiative was the training programme for women, focused on enhancing local governance. The programme commenced with an introductory address by the Lead Facilitator, Dr. Anita Brandon. This was followed by a session on foundational learning in villages, emphasising the NIPUN Bharat Mission. Subsequently, there was a session dedicated to localising Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This session outlined various themes for action that Panchayats should undertake as part of the Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP).
In the second half of the event, two critical discussions took place. The first discussion centred on the creation of women-friendly panchayats and the integration of gender aspects in the Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP). This session emphasised the importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment within Panchayats. It also addressed the issues of discrimination and violence against women and girls in village settings. Additionally, the participants explored various challenges and opportunities associated with women’s leadership in these local governance structures.
The following session focused on strategies to eliminate violence against women and girls. Participants had the opportunity to share experiences and insights on prevention and response to such issues. They received information about relevant legal frameworks, support systems, and successful initiatives implemented in various states and by different organisations. Additionally, an open discussion was held regarding the empowerment of women Panchayat Sarpanchs. This discussion particularly addressed the issue of proxy participation caused by interference from male relatives, examining its causes, consequences, and strategies to assert autonomy and overcome social barriers. Participants also shared tactics for asserting leadership and gaining support from their families and communities.
The programme concluded with a powerful reflection from Dr. Anita, who, post the session, emphasised the critical importance of empowering sarpanchs, especially women. She commented, “Empowering women sarpanchs is not just about promoting gender equality; it’s a vital step towards realising tangible grassroots growth and development. When we equip women leaders with the right tools and knowledge, we are setting the stage for profound and sustainable change at the very heart of our rural communities.”