Policy Allows Indian Women To Be A Decision Maker
Himachal Pradesh - a mountain state in the north of India has announced reservation of 50% seats in panchayat/village councils. The decision has generated much excitement among millions of women in the state's remote districts about participate in the decision making system for the first time. Pratibha Rolta, a community reporter of IndiaUnheard, in a video report, gives us an insight into this excitement women never experienced before.
Rolta, who lives in a place called Solan, says that 50% reservation has generated has raised hopes of women in her community in which every woman between the age of 15-55 works hard to boost the family income, yet stays as an invisible workforce.
The women here are engaged in a number of works ranging from traditional ones such as household care, drying/storing of grains, weaving etc to more “masculine” work such as plowing fields, gathering firewood and fodder from forests and working in the fields. Though through these works they help ease the family’s economic burden a lot, their labor is not accounted for or valued in the same way as the work men do. They also have little political capital to spend in asserting their rights or making any demands.
Rreservation of 50% seats in panchayat for these women in Solan means greater opportunities to take part in local government. Pratibha who has always felt strongly about women’s empowerment feels that more active participation of women in panchayat will also lead to better economic status, labour rights and greater control over household income.
Interestingly, the first idea of reserving 505 seats for women was first proposed by another woman – Indian president Pratibha Patil in 2009 when the Panchayati Raj institution completed its 50 years. The president has told the parliament that women in India suffered multiple deprivations of class, caste and gender and by giving them 50% reserved seats would help them take part in public sphere.
Accordingly, on August 2009, Indian government made it mandatory to provide 50% reservation for women in all 3 tiers of Panchayats. Himachal Pradesh was one of the first states to mandate the new reservation policy.
Today, there are 5,125 elected women panchayat members in Hiamchal Pradesh. Pratibha is happy that this number is all set to go up and more and more women from her community can now have a better life for themselves as well as play a role in the development of their area.
What it also means is that in next few years, the labour that women do in Himachal Pradesh will not remain so unnoticed, but get it's due recognition, thanks to their new political status.
Tags: Pratibha Rolta , Solan , Mountain , Himalaya , Hills , Panchayati Raj Institutio , Women Panchayat Member , Reservation , Women’s Quota , Pratibha Patil
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