Rita Sarin, Global Vice President and Country Director | India
With immense pleasure, I present to you The Hunger Project’s (THP) Annual Report for the year of 2016 (click here to download the report). The report encapsulates an interesting year marked with important milestones for us as an organization. It is a proud moment for me to note that THP’s unwavering commitment towards building and strengthening the political leadership of rural women in the local governance structures of Panchayati Raj Institutions has transcended 16 years and counting. With time and experience, our work with women leaders spread across 6 States of India has evolved in the most rewarding ways.
The programme of strengthening the agency of adolescent girls piloted in 2015 in Karnataka and Rajasthan has gained momentum. It has provided an avenue for adolescent girls and Elected Women Representatives (EWRs) alike to have an
intergenerational dialogue as well as promoted the role of Panchayats in securing their rights.
I am also happy to witness the maturing of a fruitful collaboration with the Bhutan Network for Empowering Women (BNEW) towards augmenting the processes of developing the leadership capacities of EWRs in Bhutan. In particular, THP’s SWEEP (Strengthening Women’s Empowerment through Electoral Processes) Campaign, a programme strategy to boost political participation of women in local governance systems, has been customized and adapted by BNEW within the socio-cultural and political milieu of Bhutan. Such a productive collaborative venture was made possible through the facilitation of Local Governance Initiative and Network (LOGIN).
A triumphant outcome for THP’s strategy of advocacy and alliance – building was the enforcement of the Uttarakhand Panchayati Raj Act that came into effect in April 2017. The passage of this Act is significant because the Veerangana Federation (THP’s Federation for Elected Women Representatives in Uttarakhand) had been advocating tirelessly for this particular legislation for the past nine years.
Veerangana’s determined perseverance towards championing the demand for an exclusive local governance Act in the State finally bore fruit, thereby marking a new chapter in democratic decentralization in Uttarakhand’s political history.
The successful completion of the first ever multi stakeholder outcome assessment in Odisha has been a highlight of THP’s commitment to a robust and sophisticated monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system. The M&E system within THP is defined by
the fact that it is constantly evolving and always up for experimenting with new methods and tools which provides critical learning to all levels of program management. This involves, but not limited to the use of technology to capture quality data, and thus, effectively tracks program outputs as well as impact.
We also utilized the visual medium of films to capture the leadership journeys of three remarkable elected women leaders from Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The series of short films (playlist), commissioned with support from the Royal Norwegian Embassy, allow us to put a spotlight on the impressive work done by such women leaders on the ground.
Over the years, our association with the donor-investor community has been cemented firmly. The consistent encouragement and support demonstrated by them towards endorsing THP’s endeavours in the domain of women’s transformative leadership has made our work viable and worthwhile. I would like to expressly thank our funders: American Jewish World Service, Dasra, Forum Syd, Netherlands Ministry of Foreign
Trade and Development Cooperation, Ribbin Van Den Hoek Foundation, Royal Norwegian Embassy, The Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives and United Nations Population Fund. Besides the above, I would also especially thank countless individual donors across the globe who support the work of The Hunger Project in India.
In the face of trying challenges like that of entrenched patriarchal attitudes towards women’s leadership roles, navigating the power relations of caste and
class and violence against women, THP’s work assumes greater magnitude. It is here that I would like to reiterate THP’s dedication towards guaranteeing a rightful place for women leaders in the local development agenda