Federations for Deepening Democracy in Local Governance

Federations provide EWRs a platform for sharing experiences and common issues, collaborating on projects, advocating for women’s political rights, fighting social injustices, and jointly lobbying against adverse policies and taking initiatives that will help their communities. It is a platform for co-learning which encourages EWRs to work with one another to increase their impact on their communities and Gram Panchayat governance. The Hunger Project initially facilitated federation-building processes during the third year of the five-year tenure of an EWR. With positive feedback, consistent federation success stories, and repeated requests on the part of EWRs for earlier coalition-building, it has now been built into the agenda of the first year of the five-year cycle.

Elected women have grouped together to form 140 Block Federations, 23 Cluster Federations, and one State Federation with a total membership of around 7,000 EWRs. The EWRs federations continue to forge ahead by building linkages with the State Government, disseminating governance-related information to its members, and addressing issues of social and gender justice in Gram Panchayats. THP held 21 federation-building workshops and 362 federation meetings to build the capacities of around 10,000 EWRs across eight States of India. Around 13 block-level elections were conducted as part of formalizing the federation-building process. Through these elections, office bearers of the block-level federations were elected.

In Uttarakhand, two sets of intra-State inter-district exposure visits for federation leaders were organised. The objective of the visit was to garner a better understanding of federation work, and to share experiences of federation leaders belonging to two different areas. The participating EWRs discussed about their work in Panchayats, federation-related activities, the issues addressed by their respective federations and the processes of advocacy on these issues. It was a good opportunity for federation leaders to gain better understanding of federation work through the process of co-learning and building on social capital.

THP encourages cross-learning among federations of different States. As part of this, federation leaders from Madhya Pradesh went for an exposure visit to Uttarakhand to meet their counterparts. The objective was to develop an understanding of Panchayat governance in Uttarakhand, methods adopted by federation leaders of Uttarakhand, and the subsequent advocacy strategies used.

• Improved Public Distribution System (PDS) and Mid-Day Meals through monitoring and intervention of EWRs

• Improved implementation of MGNREGS and various social welfare schemes

• Awareness on RTI was built and implemented

• Strengthened Panchayats through increased participation of citizens in Gram Sabhas

• Supported women candidates during elections

• Decreased incidences of Violence against Women (VAW), particularly alcohol related abuse and violence, leading to increased atrocity-free villages through interventions of the Gram Panchayats

• Improved relations between EWRs and elected male representatives (EMRs) through interface meetings

• Improved irrigation systems having a positive impact on agriculture

• In Madhya Pradesh, an ongoing campaign to address the issue of malnutrition is being implemented