Making Panchayats Effective
Gram Sabha Mobilization Campaigns
Gram Sabha is a constitutionally mandated mechanism through which grassroots’ constituencies hold Panchayats accountable. Gram Sabha constitutes all the adult citizens of a village who have the right to vote. Most Gram Sabha meetings witness limited participation of people due to a lack of awareness.
For women’s leadership to be effective both in governance and in other aspects of village and community life, having women communicate and participate in the Gram Sabha meetings is crucial. Accordingly, intensive Gram Sabha mobilization campaigns have been conducted by THP with the support of EWRs and partner organizations in the States of Bihar, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. During these campaigns, inputs regarding the need, role, rules, regulations, and participation in Gram Sabha meetings were provided. In total, 48 Gram Sabha mobilization workshops were conducted. Street-plays, lectures, IEC materials including posters, pamphlets, and audio / video materials, door-to-door campaigning, small meetings, mobile van campaigns, and wall-writings are used to impart the significance of the Gram Sabhas. These tools have been used to highlight development and women’s issues and concerns in the Gram Sabhas’s budget as well. A radio programme was developed on the process of conducting Gram Sabha meetings and women’s participation in the same. The programme covered all the districts of Rajasthan.
Attendance and participation of both men and women has improved in the Gram Sabha meetings. Issues like water facilities and drainage, quality of education in schools, functioning of the ICDS and other government schemes, entitlements to needy people, and services of health centres and hospitals, were collectively raised and followed up more cohesively than before.
STRENGTHENING PANCHAYAT MEETINGS
In order to maximize the efficacy of the Gram Sabha mobilization initiatives, EWRs meet regularly with community women at Panchayat meetings. The meetings help to mobilize community women to have greater roles and participate more effectively in the Gram Sabha. A crucial outcome of these meetings is the collective community spirit which is developed when they come together as a group.
The monthly Panchayat meetings enable EWRs to prepare their agenda and synthesize ideas and issues much before the official Gram Sabha meetings. Other women also learn their political rights through these meetings.
In Bihar, around 523 ward meetings have been organized by EWRs to discuss their action plans made during the WLWs with the community and seek support for the development of the ward / Panchayat. Around 13,047 women participated in the ward meetings.