From 2001 we started work on new strategy, focusing on leadership building of elected women representatives.
Karnataka has been one of the oldest states, where the work was initiated and the WLW module was tested here. The most significant and interesting development in the state has been the felt need of the elected women to form federations. After the gram panchayat elections in 2000, elected women received intensive women’s leadership training from THP and at the end of the term, they strongly shared the need of a collective, a federation of elected women representatives to address the rights and interests of the women.
There had been incidences when, elected women tried to ask for support from the Secretary or some government official in the gram Panchayat or block Panchayat office, but they were not treated with respect. This was the time that they felt the need to going together as a collective and demand for their rights.
After the elections in 2005, THP started to work on the concepts of federation building in the state. Most interestingly, the concept came from the women; we did a field exercise with the elected women in 53 blocks, to formulate their understanding of a federation, how do they visualize it, what according to them should be the vision and goal of the federation and how do they want to sustain it. Through this, since inception, we followed a democratic process.
All these thoughts were synthesized in one document called the white paper of federation.
White Paper Process
After the workshops, a series of white paper consultations (formal meetings) were done with elected women representatives at the Taluk level. These consultations built a collective ownership of the federation amongst the members. The objective of these consultations was two-fold:
- To articulate the vision, understanding and structure of federations by elected women representatives themselves
- To synthesize and document the outcome of the consultations from eight districts.