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STUDY REPORT MARCH 2014

Women Empowerment and Panchayati Raj: A Study of Women Representatives in Bundelkhand Region of Uttar Pradesh

RAKESH K SINGH

INDIAN SOCIAL INSTITUTE 10, INSTITUTIONAL AREA LODI ROAD, NEW DELHI-110 003

TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS LIST OF TABLES LIST OF FIGURES LIST OF BOXES GLOSSARY Chapter-1 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Chapter-2 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.7.1 2.7.2 2.7.3 2.7.4 2.7.5 2.8 Chapter-3 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.3.1 3.4 Chapter-4 4.0 4.1 4.1.1 4.1.2 4.1.3 4.1.4 4.1.5 4.1.6 4.1.7 INTRODUCTION Status of Women in Rural India Evolution of Panchayats: An Overview Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992 Panchayati Raj in Uttar Pradesh Women and Panchayats in Bundelkhand Present Study STATEMENT OF THE METHODOLOGY Introduction Statement of the Problem Significance of the Study Objectives of the Study Research Variables Research Questions Methodology Instruments Used Process of Study Study Area Sample Design Data Analysis Limitations PROBLEM, OBJECTIVES AND Page No. 4 5 6 6 7 8-19 8-11 12-14 14-15 15-17 17-19 19 20-30 20 20 20-21 21 21-22 22-23 23-29 23 24 24-27 27-29 29 29-30 31-39 31 31-33 33-36 34-36 37-39 40-95 40 40-47 40-42 42-43 43-45 45 45-47 47-48 49-50

CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK Introduction Empowerment: The Concept and Definition Women Empowerment Measuring Women Empowerment in Rural India Other Operational Frameworks RESULTS AND DISCUSSION Introduction Socio-Demographic Profile of Women Representatives Age Profile Educational Level Primary Occupation Marital Status and Religious Affiliation Economic Profile Profile of Male representatives Profile of Community Members

4.2 4.2.1 4.2.2 4.2.3 4.2.4 4.3 4.3.1 4.3.2 4.3.3 4.3.4

Participation, Awareness and Role Performance Introduction Participation of Women Representatives in Gram Panchayats Awareness of Women Representatives Role Performance of Women Representatives Nature and Extent of Women Empowerment Extent of Women Empowerment Correlation between Women Empowerment and Demographic Variables Correlation between Women Empowerment and Awareness, Participation, Performance and Interface Variables Correlation between Women Empowerment and Empowerment Related Variables Blocks to Women Representatives Caste-related Blocks Patriarchy-related Blocks Socio-economic Blocks Proxy-related Blocks Correlation between Women Empowerment and Blocks Correlation between Overall Blocks and Block-related Variables Role of Capacity Building Training and Enabling Structures Capacity Building Training Parallel Village Bodies and Community Based Organisations

51-67 51 51-58 58-61 61-67 68-75 68-69 69-71 72 72-75

4.4 4.4.1 4.4.2 4.4.3 4.4.4 4.4.5 4.4.6

76-89 77-79 79-82 83-84 84-86 86-87 87-89

4.5 4.5.1 4.5.2 Chapter-5 5.1 5.2

90-95 90-94 94-95 96-103 96-100 100-103 104-107

CONCLUSIONS AND SUGGESTIONS Conclusions Suggestions

LIST OF REFERENCES

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I express my deep sense of gratitude to Dr Joseph Xavier, S.J, Executive Director, Indian Social Institute for entrusting this study to me and for his ruitful discussions and support. My thanks are due to Dr. Paul DSouza, Research Director of the Institute, for sparing his valuable time and talking to me from time to time on issues relating to women empowerment and representation of women in Gram Panchayats. I am grateful to Dr. Marianus Kujur S.J, Joy Karayampuram S.J, Dr. Denzil Fernandes S.J., Dr. Archana Sinha, Mrs. Renuka Rammanujam, and all past and present faculty members of the Institute, especially Dr. Christopher Lakra, S.J., Former Executive Director and Prof. John Chathanatt, S.J, former Research Director for the keen interest that they have evinced in this study. My sincere thanks are also due to the Women Representative and community members of Uttar Pradesh Bundelkhand who gave us their time during the field work and provided valuable insights and observations. While the entire team from Vidya Dham Samiti, Atarra deserves special recognition for their dedicated and efficient field work, I am especially thankful to Raja Bhaiya and Jainarayanji for helping me with the interviews and data collection from all the seven districts of Uttar Pradesh Bundelkhand. I also acknowledge Ms Madhuri Paliwal for undertaking the responsibility of data entry. Many more who have helped during the course of this study directly or indirectly are duly acknowledged. Rakesh K Singh Principle Researcher Department of Womens Studies Indian Social Institute

LIST OF TABLES
Table 2.1 Table 2.2 Table 4.1 Table 4.2 Table 4.3 Table 4.4 Table 4.5 Table 4.6 Table 4.7 Table 4.8 Table 4.9 Table 4.10 Table 4.11 Table 4.12 Table 4.13 Table 4.14 Table 4.15 Table 4.16 Table 4.17 Table 4.18 Table 4.19 Table 4.20 Table 4.21 Table 4.22 Table 4.23 Table 4.24 Table 4.25 Table 4.26 Table 4.27 Table 4.28 Table 4.29 Table 4.30 Table 4.31 Table 4.32 Brief Profile of Study Area Bundelkhand (U.P.) District/Block-wise Sample Distribution Respondent Panchayat Representatives Age of Women representatives by Social Category (%) Education of Women Representatives by Social Category Primary Occupation of Women Representatives by Social Category Economic Status of Women Representatives by Position and Social Category Land Ownership Status of Women Representatives by Position and Social Category (%) Socio-demographic Profile of Male Representatives (%) Socio-demographic Profile of Community Members (%) Number of Times Gram Sabha Meetings Held in a Year (%) Formation of Quorum for Gram Sabha Meetings (%) Participation in Gram Sabha Meetings (%) Participation of Women Representatives in Development Agenda of Panchayats (%) Awareness of Basic Panchayat Provisions (%) Implementation of Panchayat Raj Development Agenda (%) Implementation of Community Development Programmes (%) Interaction with Government Functionaries (%) Interaction with Line Departments (%) Monitoring of Govt. Schemes/ Functioning of Officials Extent of Women Empowerment in Rural Bundelkhand of UP Correlation of Women Empowerment with Demographic Variables Social Category and Women Empowerment Correlation of Women empowerment with Awareness, participation, Performance and Interface with Government Correlation between Women Empowerment and Empowerment Related Variables Blocks to Women Representatives (%) Correlation between Women Empowerment and Blocks Correlation between Overall Blocks and Block-related Variables Training Received by Women Representatives (%) Reasons for Training Not Received (%) Content of Training Received (%) Agenda for Training/ Further Training (%) Membership in Various Parallel Bodies (%) Association with CBOs (%)

LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 2.1 Figure 2.2 Figure 3 Figure 4.1 Figure 4.2 Figure 4.3 Figure 4.4 Figure 4..4.1 Figure 4.5 Figure 4.6 Figure 4.7 Figure 4.8 Figure 4.9 Figure 4.10 Figure 4.11 Figure 4.12 Sample Distribution by Respondent Types Sample Distribution by Districts/Blocks Women Empowerment and Panchayati Raj: The Study Diagram Age of Women Representatives Educational Attainment of WRs Primary Occupation on the Basis of Time Spent Participation of WRs in Gram Sabha Meetings Participation in Panchayat Development Agenda Awareness of Basic Panchayat Provisions WRs and Discussion on Development Issues in Panchayat Meetings Role of WRs in Implementation of Community Development Programmes Interface with Government by Social Categories (%) Caste Blocks to Women Representatives Patriarchy Blocks to Women empowerment Socio-Economic Blocks to Women Representatives Proxy Blocks to Women Representatives

LIST OF BOXES
Box-1 Box-2 Box-3 Box-4 Box-5 Box-6 Box-7 Box-8 Box-9 Box-10 Box-11 Box-12 Box-13 Box-14 Box-15 Box-16 Box-17 Box-18 Dont attend Panchayat meetings, because dont get information: Meera Cant run from pillar to post all the time, no one listens: Meena Things would improve only with the passage of time, says Panchayat Secretary Sanjo: Fighting against the Odds and succeeding Prevalent gender norms preventing interaction Women Empowerment: The Gulabi Gang Style Reasons for low women empowerment level are many: Raja Bhaiya Who will take care of home, asks Rajeshwari Pal Registration of land and properties in womens name increasing: Bhola Prasad Males dont let women to come to the forefront Household matters are most important for ladies: Indra Pal, a Dalit Pradhan-Pati Gender discrimination still pervasive: Babita Gupta, Asha Bahu Gopi: The Story of an abandoned girl Child Munni Devi: a disempowered woman in veil Vimala: A Victim of physical abuse and desertion She would only echo what I say: Shivlal School management Committee and absentee Women Panchayat members Jyoti survives to fight

GLOSSARY
ANM = Auxiliary Nurse Midwife APL = Above Poverty Line BPL = Below Poverty Line CBOs = Community Based Organisations CMs = Community Members CSR= Child Sex Ratio ERs = Elected Representatives EWR = Elected Woman Representative GOI = Government of India GP = Gram Panchayat GS = Gram Sabha ICDS = Integrated Child Development Scheme JMC = Joint Management Committee MDG = Millennium Development Goals MDMS = Mid Day Meal Scheme MMR = Maternal Mortality Rate MNREGA = Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act MR = Male Representative NRHM = National Rural Health Mission OBC = Other Backward Caste PDS = Public Distribution System PRIs =Panchayati Raj Institutions PVBs = Parallel Village Bodies SC = Scheduled Caste SHG = Self Help Group SPSS = Statistical Package for Social Scientists SSA = Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan ST = Scheduled Tribe TSC = Total Sanitation Campaign UEE = Universal Elementary Education UP = Uttar Pradesh VEC = Village Education Committee VWSC = Village Water and Sanitation WCP = Women's Component Plan WEC = Women Empowerment Committee WEC = Women Empowerment Committee WM = Ward Member WR = Woman Representative

Chapter-1 INTRODUCTION
1.1 STATUS OF WOMEN IN RURAL INDIA

Of the 587 million women in India, more than half of them 405 million are in rural areas, according to Census 2011. Women have been identified as key agents of sustainable development and women's equality and empowerment are seen as central to a more holistic approach towards establishing new patterns and processes of development that are sustainable. Women empowerment is essential for ensuring not just their personal or household welfare, but also the wellbeing of the entire society as women are seen to be the primary guardians responsible for altering the quality and quantity of human resources available in a country to promote sustainable development in the coming generations (UNFPA, 2005). The importance of women empowerment on the international development agenda is amply clear from the policy statements made at such high level international conferences as Beijing Platform for Action, the Beijing +5 Declaration and Resolution, the Cairo Programme of Action, the Millennium Declaration and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. All these forums have identified gender equality both as a development objective in itself, as well as a means to promote growth, good governance, and reduce poverty. Since Independence, the Government has introduced a number of path-breaking laws relating to women. Some of the important legislative measures include, among others, the Hindu Marriage Act (1955), The Hindu Succession Act (1956), Dowry Prohibition Act (1961), Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (1971), Equal Remuneration Act (1976), Child Marriage Restraint Act (1976), Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act (1986), Pre-natal Diagnostic Technique (Regulation and Prevention of Measure) Act (1994), Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (2005), Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (2006), Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (2012), Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal Act (2013) and finally the Anti-Rape or Criminal Law
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(Amendment) Act (2013). Besides, various welfare measures have also been taken up by the Government from time to time to empower women. There are however significant gaps between policy advancements and actual practice at the community level. One key factor for the gap in implementation of laws and policies to address discrimination and socio-economic disadvantages against women is largely the patriarchal structure that governs the community and households in much of India. As such, women and girls have restricted mobility, access to education, access to health facilities, and lower decision-making power, and experience higher rates of violence. Moreover, they are, by and large, excluded from political life, which by its very nature takes place in a public forum. Whatever whiff of emancipation has blown in Indian society, has been inhaled and enjoyed by the urban women, their population belonging to the rural areas are still totally untouched by the wind of changes. Among rural women, there are further divisions that hinder women's

empowerment. The most notable ones are education levels and caste and class divisions. Women from socially disadvantaged groups (the scheduled castes, other backward castes, and tribal communities) are particularly vulnerable to maternal mortality and infant mortality. They are often unable to access health and educational services, lack decision-making power, and face higher levels of violence. Among these groups, however, some level of education has shown to have a positive impact on women's empowerment indicators. The status of rural women with respect to various socio-economic conditions in the country is described below: Low Sex Ratio Gender disparity manifests itself in various forms, the most obvious being the low sex-ratio in the population in the last few decades. The overall sex ratio (number of women per 1,000 men) improved only marginally in rural areas from 946 to 947 between 2001- 2011. The real improvement was seen in urban areas where the sex ratio improved from 900 to 926 during the same time. Though the child sex ratio (0-6
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years) is far worse in urban areas than in rural areas, the fall in rural areas has been much sharper from 934 to 919, i.e., a drop of 15 points (Figure1.1). This also goes to show the higher preference for male child rather than females. Maternal Mortality Rate Maternal mortality in India is estimated at 212 per one lakh live births, whereas the country`s MDG in this respect is 109 per one lakh live births by 2015 (The Millennium Development Goals Report 2012). As many as 150 women were dying daily in India, as per 2010 data on maternal deaths. This means one woman is dying every ten minutes. The states where MMR is still high are Assam, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, besides others. Not surprisingly, higher rates of maternal mortality are more characteristic of rural and backward caste women than of urban and forward caste women. This is also a pointer to the poor access of women to health care in general and maternity facilities in particular, in rural India. Poverty Nearly one out of three persons in India's villages - or about 32% of rural population - lives in abject poverty with income barely enough to buy even basic essentials (Ministry of Rural Development, GOI, 2013). However, it is women both in rural and urban areas who face a higher risk of poverty and more limited economic opportunities than their male counterparts. Women in rural poverty live under the same harsh conditions as their male counterparts, but experience additional cultural and policy biases which undervalue their work in both the informal, and if accessible, formal labor markets (World Survey, 2009). Moreover, womens contribution to the rural economy is generally underestimated, as women perform a disproportionate amount of care work, work that often goes unrecognized because it is not seen as economically productive.

Educational Deprivation Educational deprivation is a distinct gender dimension which is most visible in case of rural women and girl children, especially those belonging to oppressed castes (the
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scheduled castes, tribal communities, and other backward castes). The literacy rate of women is much lower than men because boys receive more schooling than girls. However, modest improvement is gradually coming up in the educational level of women. The overall female literacy rate has gone up by 31% from 224 million in 2001 to 328 million in 2011. Nevertheless, while the literacy rate in rural India has increased to 58% from 46%, the literacy rate for urban females shows a growth from 73% to 79% in the same time period. Financial Inclusion One of the ways in which the government has tried to ensure financial inclusion in rural areas is through self-help groups (SHGs). The number of women headed SHGs with saving accounts has increased from 5.3 million to 5.9 million from 2009 to 2013. As on 31 March 2013, nearly 6 million SHGs have reached 95 million people in the country. However, SHGs having savings account is only considered the first step to financial inclusion; the real indicator would be the loans disbursed to SHGs. Unfortunately, the number of SHGs receiving loans has come down from 1.2 million in 2009-10 to 1 million in 2012-13. This tends to shows that commercial banks are cautious while lending to SHGs. So, rural women in India face battles that begin from their birth with the declining child sex ratio to accessing loans through SHGs. There are, however, a few good developments like increasing literacy rates and more and more women learning to read and write. Whenever and whatever opportunities are provided to rural women, they seem to grab them; for example, the formation of SHGs under Swarnajayanti Grameen Swarozgar Yojana. 1.2. EVOLUTION OF PANCHAYATS: AN OVERVIEW

Panchayati Raj is not a new phenomenon in the country. It has its roots in ancient Indian institutions when the villages were little republics governed by their Panchayats. In modern India, however, the idea of Panchayats was first evoked in the colonial period. The British through their ruthless method of revenue collection and the introduction of Zamindari land tenure system almost destroyed these
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ancient republics and also the involvement of women in politics. After Independence, the idea of the revival of Panchayats was first proposed in the Balwantrai Mehta Committee Report (1957), which saw democratic decentralisation as a way of making good the failures of the community development programme. Subsequently, the National Development Council endorsed the basic principles of democratic decentralization enunciated in the Balwantrai Mehta report and laid on States the duty of working out the structures suitable to each State. By the mid-60s, Panchayats had been established in several States all over India in accordance with local state legislations. However, these were differentially empowered by these legislations. Women were not given any special representation through reservation in Panchayat bodies. Elections to these bodies were not held regularly and state governments often superseded them prematurely and placed them under administrators (Committee on Empowerment of Women, 2009-2010). Two decades later, the Asoka Mehta Committee Report (1978) on Panchayati Raj Institutions made far-reaching recommendations for the revival of Panchayats, which also included inclusion in the Constitution. In keeping with the spirit of the Asoka Mehta Committee recommendations, some States including West Bengal, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh revisited their respective Panchayati Raj systems and undertook several new initiatives to endow local bodies with more powers.The importance of according Constitutional status to the PRIs subsequently came up in the recommendations of several official committees reviewing rural development and poverty alleviation programmes (e.g., the G.V.K.Rao Committee, 1985; the L.M. Singhvi Committee, 1986). The Sarkaria Commission on Centre-State relations also noted that panchayats were not functioning effectively as elections to them were not regularly held, and they were constantly being superseded on flimsy grounds. At the national level, the initiative to give Constitutional status to Panchayati Raj was attempted by the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1989. Eventually, in 1993, Panchayati Raj was incorporated into the Constitution by the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act (Ministry of Panchayat Raj, 2008).

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Notably, until the passage of the 73rd Amendment Act, the suggestion for strengthening women's representation was only faintly articulated in the mainstream history of Panchayati Raj. The Balwantrai Mehta Committee report had suggested only that the 20-member Panchayat Samiti should co-opt or nominate two women, "interested in work among women and children" (Government of India, 1957). Between Balwantrai Mehta and Asoka Mehta, the Committee for the Status of Women in India, in its famous report Towards Equality (1974), argued forcefully that rural women's needs and perspectives had never been given sufficient weightage in the plans and development policies of the Government of India. The Report recognised that co-option and nomination were underwritten by the assumption that women were incapable of contesting elections, and would not permit the questioning, much less transformation, of power equations in rural society. The Asoka Mehta Committee Report (1978) recommended a two-tier panchayat system, in which the two women who polled the highest number of votes in the panchayat elections would, even if they failed to actually get elected, stand co-opted into the panchayat. Where no women contested elections, any two women known to be active community workers, could be co-opted. The issue of the representation of women and their participation in local-level institutions only came up again in the parallel stream, with the National Perspective Plan for Women (1988)

recommending 30 percent reservation for women in these bodies. The same recommendation was also made in the unsuccessful 64th Constitutional Amendment Bill of 1989, but it was only finally in 1992 that a redesigned three-tier system of Panchayati Raj - along with the provisions for women's reservation in panchayat bodies at every level - was incorporated into the Constitution by Amendment, and subsequently ratified by the states.

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1.3.

73RD CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ACT, 1992

The Amendment Bill, giving Constitutional status to the Panchayati Raj institutions, was passed by both Houses of Parliament in December 1992. It was ratified by 17 State Assemblies in 1993 and came into force as Constitution 73rd Amendment Act from the 24th April 1993. The Act provides Constitutional status to the Panchayats and gives it uniformity by making the three-tier system a permanent feature. The key features of the Act are the following: Panchayats shall be constituted in every State at the village, intermediate and district level. However, the States with a population not exceeding 20 lakh have been given the option to not have any intermediate level Panchayat. There shall be a Gram Sabha in each village exercising such powers and performing such functions at the village level as the legislature of a State may provide by law. Members of Panchayats at all levels will be elected through direct elections. The election of the chairperson at the intermediate and district level will be through indirect elections and the mode of election of the chairperson of the village Panchayat has been left to the respective States. Seats are reserved for Scheduled Caste (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) at all level according to their population at each level. Not less than one-third of seats are reserved for women and these may be allotted by rotation. The office of chairperson will also be subject to this provision. A uniform five-year term has been granted to the Panchayats. In case of dissolution or supersession, elections should be held within six months of the date of dissolution. State legislatures have the legislative power to confer on the Panchayats such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as institutions of self governance. State government has the power to authorise the Panchayats to levy, collect and appropriate suitable local taxes. The Government can make grant-in-aid to the Panchayats from the consolidated fund of the concerned State.
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A State Election Commission shall be constituted to ensure free and fair elections to the Panchayats. The 73rd Amendment was inserted in Part IX of the Constitution, containing article 243 to 243-O. Local government is an exclusive State subject under entry 5 of List II of the 7th Schedule. It was binding on the States that the implementing legislation should be undertaken within a year of the commencement of the 73rd Amendment Act. 1.4. PANCHAYATI RAJ IN UTTAR PRADESH

The first Village Panchayat Act in Uttar Pradesh was enacted in 1920. Village level local bodies were set up to assist in the administration of civil and criminal justice, sanitation and other common concerns. However, the Panchs of the Panchayats set up under the Act were to be appointed by the Collector of the district, ruling out any chances of democratic self-government. Immediately after Independence, Uttar Pradesh enacted the United Provinces Panchayat Raj Act 1947 (also known as Uttar Pradesh Panchayat Raj Act, 1947), which was signed by the Governor General on 7th December, 1947. Under this Act, three bodies were created Gaon Sabha, Gaon Panchayat, and Panchayat Adalat or Nyaay Panchayats. To begin with, around 35,000 Gaon Panchayats and 8,000 Nyaay Panchayats started functioning for nearly 5.4 crore (the then) rural population of Uttar Pradesh. Following the recommendations of Balwant Rai Mehta Committee a three-tier

system of Panchayats was established through the enactment of the U.P. Kshettra Samitis and Zila Parishads Act, 1961 (later renamed as UP Kshetra Panchayats and Zila Panchayats Adhiniyam, 1961). The three tiers (from lowest to the highest) consisted of Gaon Panchayats, Kshetra Samitis and the Zila Parishad. Ksehtra Samiti was a block level body headed by a Pramukh. It included the Pradhans of constituent Gaon Sabhas and all the MPs and MLAs belonging to the area or whose constituencies fell in the area. The Kshetra Samiti was given functions in the fields of agricultural development, minor irrigation, animal husbandry, health, education and cooperatives. On the other hand, Zila Parishad was a body at the district level. During the year 1972-73, when the fourth general elections was successfully
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completed, there were 72834 Gaon Panchayats and 8792 Nyay Panchayats in force in Uttar Pradesh. The Sixth general elections were successfully completed in year 1988 and a 30% reservation for the women representative was given during the same year. Following the 73rd Constitutional Amendment) Act, 1992 by the Government of India, the Government of Uttar Pradesh also amended the UP Kshetra Panchayats and Zila Panchayats Adhiniyam, 1961 to bring about conformity with the provisions of the Constitution through the Uttar Pradesh Panchayat Laws (Amendment) Act, 1994. As on March 31st, 2012, there were 51974 Gram Panchayats, 821 Kshettra Panchayats, and 72 Zila Panchayats established in Uttar Pradesh. Increasing presence of elected women representatives to the Panchayati Raj Institutions at various levels has certainly raised hope for women empowerment in Uttar Pradesh. The 2010 Panchayat elections have resulted in a phenomenally large number of women elected leaders, much beyond the reserved one-third seats. Areas where civil society organizations have empowered women at large, the elected women are found to be very articulate, vigilant and practical. More women in grassroots organizations will ensure more meaningful engagement of women in decision making. A more active Gram Sabha which is sensitive to women's issues is the desirable goal as a woman sarpanch alone in a gender hostile Panchayat may not be able to accomplish and sustain much for the benefit of women or the village community at large (Uttar Pradesh Human Development Report, 2007). The status of women in the State remains a cause of concern. However, women see effective and efficient functioning of Panchayats closely linked to the issue of active women's participation (Mahila Samakhya U.P. Annual Report, 2004-05). Entry into public space, utilization of authority in practice, trainings by government and nongovernment agencies are all part of a process of gradual growth of knowledge, selfesteem and empowerment which gives women the agency to function effectively in the political process. Even proxy and dummy candidates may experience this process of empowerment. Having a high participation of women at the local self
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government level can create an environment which is enabling for other women, receptive to the idea of gender friendly initiatives and can serve to monitor and implement government community and gender- based programmes related to education, nutrition and health. 1.5. WOMEN AND PANCHAYATS IN BUNDELKHAND

The social relations in Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh are still based on feudalism, casteism and rigid patriarchal norms. The harsh realities that unfold for its women are: they always play second fiddle to men, their caste determines their social status, they are largely illiterate and their entire existence is confined to the four walls of the home. If they do to step out, it is either to make endless trips to fetch water from a distant source or to work as agricultural labour to supplement their meager household incomes. Quality of life in Bundelkhand is reflected by the prevalence of diseases, high mortality rate, atrocities against women, poor linkages by roads, and lack of sanitation at the household level. The concept of universalisation of education, even at the primary level is far beyond the reach. The literacy percentage among the SC/ST, and particularly female literacy among them, shows a very dismal picture. A recent study on development of elementary education in Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh concluded that in spite of various initiatives taken by the government to achieve the goal of UEE (Universal Elementary Education) in Bundelkhand region of U.P. vast disparities were observed in terms of literacy, access, participation, and gender (Narula, 2009). Backwardness of women is evident from the fact that male literacy is very high in comparison to females; even lowest level of literacy of male for Lalitpur (75 percent on overall basis and 73 percent in rural areas) is higher than the highest of female for any districts. Bundelkhand also happens to be one of the major contributors to the poor sex ratio of Uttar Pradesh. While in the 2001 Census, it was the western UP that was redmarked for killing girls, the 2011 Census figures show that in Bundelkhand, the ratio has dipped starkly. In 2001, the 0-6 CSR in Jhansi district was 886/1000. But as per
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the 2011 figures, it has dipped further to 866/1000 with a further difference of 20 girls than the last decade. Similarly the ratio in Chitrakoot, which was known for its dacoits so far, has fallen from 928 to 907, creating a gap of 21. Panchayati Raj Institutions in Bundelkhand havent so far proved effective because of interference from bureaucrats and dabangs (dominant/influential individuals). Due to their disadvantaged social position, the political participation of women, especially Dalit women in Panchayats seems only a mockery of the constitutional provisions. Male dominates the political scene, be it the upper caste man of the village or the husbands of Dalit women Pradhans/ Ward members. According to a ground assessment, the concept of Gram Sabhas has become nearly redundant. Pradhans have become the all-important centres of power, as well as repositories of state and central funding for implementation of all village level schemes. Most of them are backed by political parties or use the position as a ticket to further their political ambitions (Times News Network, 2010) Panchayats in the region are hardly women-friendly, focusing on issues faced by women and children. On the other hand, assuming the constitutional office does not mean the end of discrimination. Upper caste men do not like to be ruled by a woman and that too by one who belongs to a lower caste. Recently it was reported that two Dalit women Pradhans of the Bundelkhand region were forced to move out of their villages due to constant threats and oppression from people of upper castes (Mookerji, 2011). 1.6. PRESENT STUDY

It is in the above context that the present study titled Women Empowerment and Panchayati Raj: A Study of Women Representatives in Bundelkhand Region of Uttar Pradesh is located. As the above account shows, the human development indicators of rural women, particularly those belonging to socially disadvantaged groups, are abysmally poor. The 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act has given a new dimension to the process of women's empowerment. Apart from one-third reservation of women in PRIs, it has given constitutional powers and responsibilities for a range of

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issues including resource management, family planning, education and health. With the participation of women in PRIs, interpersonal relations within their families are expected have changed for the better and this political process would also improve women's perceptions of their own capabilities. The present study would examine the extent of women empowerment in Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh in the context of increased participation and role performance of women members in Gram Panchayats. While investigating the relationship of participation and performance of elected women members and that of gender and social equality with women empowerment in the region, the present study would also analyze socio-economic blocks that inhibit women empowerment, need for capacity building trainings for women members, and value addition by parallel village bodies, such as Women Empowerment Committee (WEC), Village Education Committee (VEC), etc., SHGs as enabling factors. and community based organizations such as

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Chapter-2 RESEARCH PROBLEM, OBJECTIVES AND METHODOLOGY


2.1. INTRODUCTION

Empowerment of women and women leadership in Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) is crucial not only for the development of women themselves, but also for the availability of their creative potential that is socially important without which country or State cannot assure sustainable development. The 73rd Amendment Act, 1992 has been a major step towards women empowerment through Panchayati Raj Institutions. It gave India the unique distinction of having more number of elected women representatives (EWRs) than the rest of the world together. What followed over the course of the next two decades or so is a political and social transformation that has impacted the nature of governance itself. The presence of more than 1 million elected women representatives in the institutions of local governance in rural India has rightly been termed as 'silent revolution' within the process of democratic decentralization. Out of the total 28 lakh elected Panchayat representatives, around 10 lakhs are estimated to be women (Lok Sabha Secretariat, 2013). With the proposed amendment

in Article 243D of the Constitution of India, which provides 50% reservation for women in seats and also offices of Chairpersons in all 3 tiers of Panchayats, the number of EWRs is expected to rise to more than 14 lacs (Ministry of Panchayati Raj, 2011). 2.2. RESEARCH PROBLEM

Despite the presence of women in Panchayats in large numbers through reservations, empowerment remains elusive. There are still formidable structural, social and political obstacles to be overcome before women and women leaders, especially those among socially disadvantaged groups could actually be empowered. 2.3 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

Despite several studies on participation and empowerment of women and women representatives, our understanding of the issue is still deficient. There is need to have an improved empirical base in the context of low economic development,
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especially from Bundelkhand region, where no worthwhile study on women empowerment and participation in Gram Panchayats has so far taken place.
The road to women empowerment through representation of women in PRIs is a longdrawn process. Therefore, in Bundelkhand region, where social relations are still based on

feudalism, casteism and rigid patriarchal norms; and uneducated, ill-informed and poor women representatives are subjected to exploitation at the hands of government machinery and their dominant husbands and family members, it is important to analyze the nature and extent of women empowerment and the attitudinal change of family members and society as a whole that is required towards
women and girls.

2.4

OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

The objectives of the study are as follows:

1. To map socio-economic profile of women represesentatives (WRs) in Gram Panchayats 2. To study the participation and role performance of WRs in Gram Panchayats 3. To study the nature and extent of women empowerment in Gram Panchayats, and 4. To study the blocks to WRs in performing their roles 2.5 RESEARCH VARIABLES

A description of the identified variables for the study is given below:

2.5.1 2.5.2 2.5.2.1

Dependent Variable: Independent Variables: Enhancing variables:

Empowerment of women

i). ii).

Participation of WRs Awareness of WRs

iii). Performance of WRs


21

2.5.2.2

Block variables:

i). ii).

Socio-economic related Patriarchy related

iii). Proxy/ surrogate related iv). Caste related 2.5.2.3 Demographic Variables: i). ii). Age Marital status

iii). Social category iv). Education v). Type of family

vi). Size of family vii). Occupation viii). Economic status ix). Housing type x). 2.5.2.4 Support variables: i). ii). 2.6. RESEARCH QUESTIONS Land ownership status Capacity building training Parallel village bodies

In line with the objectives to study socio-economic profile, participation, role performance, and blocks of/ to women representatives and nature and extent of women empowerment in Gram Panchayats, the guiding questions for research were identified as under: 1. What is the nature and extent of participation of women representatives in Gram Sabha meetings and the development agenda of Gram Panchayats? 2. How aware are women representatives of Panchayat provisions, development programmes and their role & responsibilities in Gram Panchayats? 3. How do women representatives perform in implementing key areas of Panchayat development agenda and community development programmes in Gram Panchayats?

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4.

What is the magnitude of women empowerment after the introduction of reservation for women in Gram Panchayats?

5.

What is the relationship of awareness, participation, performance, and interface of women representatives with women empowerment?

6.

What

are

the

blocks

to

women representatives

inhibiting

women

empowerment? 7. 8. How are blocks to women representatives and women empowerment related? How enabling are capacity building trainings and association of women representatives with parallel village bodies, to their participation and performance in Gram Panchayats? 2.7. METHODOLOGY

This is mentioned under three sections: instruments used, process of study, and duration of study. 2.7.1. Instruments used The word methodology is used to refer to the methods and general approach of a particular research study. In this study the main instrument for data collection was interview schedule. A structured integrated interview schedule was used for four (4) sets of respondents a). Elected Representatives, b). Defeated Representatives, c). Former Representatives, and d). Community Members. The objective of taking four different sets of respondents, further divided into two broad categories of women and men, was three-fold i). To add to the richness of the data set, ii). Get a diversified response on women empowerment and related variables and iii). Avoid biased response, if any, from women only respondents. A select number of statements concerning women empowerment (gender equality, social equality, decision making, functional autonomy, etc) and blocks to WRs (patriarchy-related, proxy/surrogate related, caste-related, etc) statements were chosen to assess women empowerment and blocks. The statements reflected situations with which the respondents were asked to either agree or disagree, or to give know or dont know type response in five-point Likert Scale. Thus both positive
23

and negative statements were considered for getting a balanced response from the respondents. 2.7.1. Process of Study Identifying local partner from the study region/field locations in Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh was the first step. This was done with the help of information gathered during preliminary visits to the study region. Accordingly, Raja Bhaiya (Vidya Dham Samiti, Atarra, Banda, Uttar Pradesh) was taken on board who was already working with Chingari Sangathan, a vibrant organization of grassroots women in the region. The discussions with various government and non government agencies helped to understand in depth as to what are the major issues confronting women empowerment and participation of women in Gram Panchayats in the study region. Duration: Duration of the study was 12 months, among which six months was the time utilized for field study. The study was initiated in November 2012 and field study started in May 2013, which was over by mid-September 2013. This followed analysis of data, report writing and submission of draft report by mid-February 2014. 2.7.2 Study Area The study is confined to Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh. Women, particularly the elected members of Panchayati Raj Institutions in all the 7 districts of the Bundelkhnad region of Uttar Pradesh (Chitrakoot, Banda,

Jhansi, Jalaun, Hamirpur, Mahoba and Lalitpur) constitute the population under the study. Bundelkhand is one of the most underdeveloped regions of the country infamous for its socio-cultural traditions which hardly give any space to women in public sphere. The purpose of selecting this area was to know the nature
24

and extent of women empowerment and its interplay with participation of elected women members in Gram Panchayats in a context of low socio-economic development.
Table 2.1: Brief Profile of Study Area Bundelkhand (U.P.) Total Rural (%) Sex Ratio SC (%) ST (%) Male Population (females Literacy per 1000) Rate(%) Banda 863 77.78 1,799,410 84.68 20.83 0 .00 Chitrakoot 879 75.80 991,730 90.29 26.34 0 .00 Mahoba 878 75.83 875,958 78.84 24.93 0 .00 Jalaun 865 83.48 1,689,974 75.21 27.04 0.01 Jhansi 890 85.38 1,998,603 58.30 22.79 0.02 Hamirpur 861 79.76 1,104,285 81.00 25.78 0.01 Laitpur 906 74.98 1,221,592 85.64 28.07 0.06 Source: Census 2011 (provisional data) Percentage of SC & ST as per Census 2001 Districts Female Literacy Rate(%)
53.67 52.74 53.22 62.46 63.49 55.95 50.84

Basic Population Profile According to Census 2011 (provisional data), the combined population of the 7 districts of Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh was around 9.7 million. The majority almost 75 to 90% of them live in rural regions. There is a significant presence of scheduled caste population which varies between 20 to 28% of the total population. It is also characterized by highly adverse sex-ratio and high level of illiteracy both for men and women. Illiteracy, dowry, backwardness, and land ownership make the preference for the son stronger. The school drop-out rate is marginally higher among girls than among boys. In some districts, more than 70% of the girls enrolled discontinue their studies before completing primary level. Social Groupings A significant feature of the Bundelkhand region is high percentage of population belonging to Scheduled Castes (SCs). The high SC population has some important implications. Generally, compared to other castes, SC households possess less land, of lower quality and incidence of landlessness among them is higher. Traditionally deprived of education, in an under-developed, rural economy, SC households fall easily into a trap of never-ending, highly exploitative manual labour. Other Backward Castes (OBCs) form the largest proportion of the population, whereas the upper cast groups under the 'general' category constitute around 10-15% of the rural
25

population of Bundelkhand (Arya, 2010). Compared to the India average, however, Bundelkhand has a low percentage of ST population. In Uttar Pradesh as a whole, ST groups constitute only 0.1% of the population, and the situation is no different in Bundelkhand districts. Agriculture and Land Use Pattern Agriculture is the predominant occupation in the region. According to Census 2001, percentage of main workers engaged in agriculture, as cultivators or labourers, was higher than 60, and much higher than state and national averages, in all districts of Bundelkhand except Jhansi. However, land available and used for cultivation in the region is considerably lower than in other agriculture zones of the country. Around a sixth of the total land of the region falls under some or the other category of wasteland (Arya, 2010). Despite agriculture being the mainstay of the economy, conditions are unfavourable for growth of cash crops like sugarcane and cotton. For productivity is affected by the poor water retention ability of the soil, weather fluctuations and large amount of wasteland. Rising input costs and frequent incidence of drought are pushing agricultural labourers and small farmers out of agriculture. Industry in Bundelkhand There are no significant traditional industries in Bundelkhand. Till the end of 2008, there was only one large manufacturing units in the entire region - a unit of the public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals, set up at Jhansi in the 1970s. Several small and tiny industrial units are scattered across the region, especially in Jhansi districts but no modern industry has emerged as a major source of employment across the region. Trade and transport, stone quarries are the largest source of 'industrial' employment other than construction, in Lalitpur and Chitrakoot districts. In 2001-02, Jhansi was one of the districts of UP that contributed 5-10% of the state's industrial output, while all other districts of UP Bundelkhand belonged to the category of districts that contributed less than 1% of the state's industrial output (Uttar Pradesh Human Development Report, 2006).

26

Migration According to 2002 BPL Survey data, nearly 50 to 70 percent of rural households in the region have at least one member who migrates annually or has migrated permanently. It also indicated that apart from permanent or semi-permanent migrants, working adults of 30 to 50 percent of the region's rural households migrate every year, seeking casual or seasonal employment. The proportion of casual labour migrants is much higher than that of migrants seeking seasonal employment in Bundelkhand. Chitrakoot witnesses all time highest proportion of migration. 2.7.3 Sample Design
Figure 2.1: Sample Distribution by Respondent Types Total Samples = 369

A total of 369 samples were drawn from 7 blocks, one each from all the seven (7) districts of Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh. The samples consisted of four a). (4) 231 set of

respondents

Elected

Representatives (168 Women and 63 Men), b). 39 Defeated

Representatives (34 Women and 5 Men), c). 23 Former Representatives (18 Women and 5 Men), and d). 76 Community Members (39 Women and 37 Men). Selection of samples was based on availability and willingness of the respondents to share their views/ experience during the field survey. The details are given as under:

Table 2.2: Sample Distribution by Districts/Blocks

Jalaun being the largest district of Uttar Pradesh Bundelkhand in terms of

Kabrai Maudaha Manikpur Bar

Madhogarh Naraini

number of blocks and Gram Panchayats (9 blocks and 575 Gram Panchayats, respectively), the largest chunk of

Gursarai

samples consisting of 94 respondents was drawn from Jalaun (Madhogarh Block) only, followed by Banda (Naraini Block), Jhansi (Gursarai Block), Lalitpur
27

(Bar Block), Chitrakoot (Manikpur Block), Hamirpur (Maudaha Block) and Mahoba (Kabrai Block), with 57, 52, 44, 42, 40 and 40 respondents, respectively.

Table 2.2: District/Block-wise Sample Distribution


Respondent Categories Total Pradhans Other Community Representatives Members Banda 40 6 4 7 57 (Naraini) 10.8% 1.6% 1.1% 1.9% 15.4% Chitrakoot 20 4 7 11 42 (Manikpur) 5.4% 1.1% 1.9% 3.0% 11.4% Lalitpur 12 14 8 10 44 (Bar) 3.3% 3.8% 2.2% 2.7% 11.9% Jalaun 44 18 16 16 94 (Madhogarh) 11.9% 4.9% 4.3% 4.3% 25.5% Hamirpur 12 8 13 7 40 (Maudaha) 3.3% 2.2% 3.5% 1.9% 10.8% Mahoba 20 4 8 8 40 (Kabrai) 5.4% 1.1% 2.2% 2.2% 10.8% Jhansi 23 6 6 17 52 (Gursarai) 6.2% 1.6% 1.6% 4.6% 14.1% Total 171 60 62 76 369 46.3% 16.3% 16.8% 20.6% 100.0% Note: Other Representatives include defeated and former representatives (Ward Members and Pradhans); and figures in brackets represent percentage of total samples drawn. Districts/ Blocks Ward Members

District/Block-wise distribution of samples by respondent categories is presented in Table 2.2.

The social category of the respondents reveals that out of 369 respondents, Dalit respondents (182) comprise 49 percent, followed by OBCs (150), 41% and General Category respondents (37), 10%. This is in tune with the social categorization of people in Uttar Pradesh Bundelkhand, where Dalits and OBCs outnumber General Category people. This is also in conformity with the research intending to study women empowerment and political representation among Dalits vis--vis other caste categories, which has still to overcome formidable structural, social and political obstacles. On the other hand, women respondents (259), comprising 70 percent of the total, quite naturally outnumbering male respondents (110) were 30 percent of the total.

28

2.7.4 Data Analysis The Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS) was used to make whatever quantitative analysis felt necessary from the point of view of the study. Accordingly, tables and charts were also prepared as per the study requirements with adequate explanation of the same. Special attention was given to the reliability, comprehensiveness and appropriateness of the responses from the selected respondents for proper analysis and interpretation of the data so obtained. On the other hand, qualitative information was synthesized through free listing of responses to obtain the range of responses. The responses were entered into the computer database under the specific question. The responses which were considered irrelevant under a specific question were removed. During this process, important statements or suggestions were extracted for use in the report as reference material. 2.8. LIMITATIONS

Social relations in Bundelkhand are still based on the feudal system. Therefore, women respondents, both women elected representatives and community leaders, were initially hesitant to open up and share experiences on women empowerment and political participation of women in Gram Panchayats Because of proxy representation of women elected members by the dominant male relatives in Gram Panchayats, which is a common feature in the region, it was difficult to get response from real women representatives. Proxy representatives often barred women representatives to open up with investigators and reveal relevant information on participation of women in Gram Panchayats and the extent of women empowerment in the region. Despite repeated attempts, many of the proxy representatives only volunteered themselves to respond on behalf of the women representatives. They would also often try to influence response from women representatives. The study is confined only within the Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh. Its outcomes therefore cannot be generalised for the whole country.

29

The findings of the study are based on the qualitative and quantifiable data responses from the study area. Hence the objectivity of the study is limited to the abilities of the respondents (mainly women elected representatives and community leaders in seven field locations in Uttar Pradesh Bundelkhand) to express and also to their honesty in furnishing the required information. Panchayats in Bundelkhand are located at a distance from each other and lack frequent public transport facilities. This often hampered field visits and data collection/ fieldwork.

30

Chapter-3 CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK


3.1. INTRODUCTION

Framing this study within the context of empowerment places it directly in terms of what John Friedmann termed the emerging practice of an alternative development with its claims to inclusive democracy, appropriate economic growth, gender equality, and intergenerational equity (Friedman 1992). Moving away from topdown framework of development models, empowerment here places emphasis on local people, local contexts, and local forms of power and governance. This is not to suggest that there is no element of top-down facilitation and pressure involved in the empowerment process, particularly when multilateral agencies such as the World Bank and international NGOs are adopting the development rhetoric of empowerment; but the intention is to focus on people as active subjects of their own history (Friedmann, 1992) and also as participatory active voices in their own development. 3.2. EMPOWERMENT: THE CONCEPT AND DEFINITION

The concept of empowerment has a fascinating history. Its origins and meanings, could be traced back as early as to the Protestant Reformation in Europe which echoed through the centuries in Europe and North America through Quakerism, Jeffersonian democracy, early capitalism, and the black power movement (Gaventa 2002). The concept was rooted in many significant struggles for social justice: in our own country India, for example, the Veerashaiva movement against caste and gender repression in 12th and 13th century in Karnataka advocated for relocation of power and access to spiritual knowledge through demolition of the existing forms of social stratification. But the term acquired a strongly political overtone in the second half of the 20th century, when it was embraced by the liberation theorists, black movement, feminist and other struggles for more inclusive and just forms of social change and development. The 1990s witnessed an all-pervasive co-option of the term by corporate management, political movements, and consumer-rights campaigns.
31

3.2.1 Defining Empowerment Empowerment is a process of change that focuses on expanding the range of choices that people can make. As such, it cannot be understood as a single dimensional formula for change, either as process or outcome. It must instead be understood in particular contexts taking into consideration the specific needs of the people intended to be empowered (Kabeer 1998). Providing what is possibly the most comprehensive view of power, the central concept within empowerment, Rowland (1997) notes that power operates in four different ways: Power-over: It involves control or influence over others which is an instrumentation of domination. It involves creation of simple dualities, threats of violence, intimidation, and active and passive resistance. Power-with: It is a collective form of power where people feel empowered by organizing and uniting around a common purpose or understanding and it involves a sense of whole greater than the sum of individuals. Power-within It involves the spiritual strength and uniqueness that resides in each one of us and makes us really human. Its basis is self-acceptance and self-respect, which extend, in turn, respect for and acceptance of others as equals. Power-to: It is creative, productive, and enabling and considered the essence of
individual empowerment. It involves capacity building, decision-making authority,

leadership, the power to understand how things work, and problem-solving skills. In the above framework, power-over is the most common, yet most destructive conceptualization averse to development. Other forms of power therefore need to be explored within development to engender positive forms of empowerment. It is also important to note that men also benefit from the results of women's empowerment with the chance to live in a more equitable society and explore new roles (Oxaal 1997). It is this framework, encouraging a shift from the hierarchical power-over conceptualization towards equitable individual
power-within

and

power-to 32

conceptualizations of empowerment, which constitutes the theoretical framework for this study. However, the concept of power-with is also important, particularly when understanding collective forms of empowerment, which this study also addresses. In an extensive exploration of empowerment, Kabeer (1999, 2001) focuses on three dimensions that define the capacity to exercise strategic life choices: access to resources, agency, and outcomes. Building on Kabeer's emphasis on choice, Steady (2006) selects mobilization of political, economic, education, human, social, and cultural resources as key to empowerment, both within and outside formal political processes. According to another definition, empowerment is an active, multidimensional process which enables women to realize their full identity and powers in all spheres of life. Power is not a commodity to be transacted, nor can it be given as alms. Power has to be acquired and once acquired; it needs to be exercised, sustained and preserved (Pillai 1995). 3.3. WOMEN EMPOWERMENT

Women empowerment as a concept emerged from several important analyses and critiques engendered by the women's movement throughout the world during the 1980s, when feminists, particularly in the Third World, were increasingly dissatisfied with the generally apolitical and economistic 'WID', 'WAD', and 'GAD' models in existing development interventions (Batliwala 2010). It challenged not only patriarchy, but also the facilitating structures of class, race, ethnicity, and, in India, caste and religion, which regulated the nature of women's status and role in emerging societies. With the commencement of 1990s, empowerment held an important place in development jargon. And though it was applied in a variety of social-change processes, the term was most commonly used with reference to women and gender equality only. Empowerment being a process and not something that can be given to people, and empowerment process being both individual and collective, since it is through involvement in group that people most often begin to develop their awareness and
33

the ability to organize to take action and bring about change, women empowerment can be viewed as a continuum of several interested and mutually reinforcing components (Karl 1995). These are as under: Awareness building about womens situation, discrimination, and right and opportunities as a step towards gender equality, collective awareness building provides a sense of group identity and the power of working as a group. Capacity building and skills development, especially the ability to plan, make decisions, organize, manage and carryout activities, to deal with people and institutions in the world around them. Participation and greater control and decision-making power in the home, community and society. Action to bring about greater equality between men and women.

Womens empowerment is essential for ensuring not just their personal or household welfare, but also the wellbeing of the entire society as women are seen to be the primary guardians responsible for altering the quality and quantity of human resources available in a country to promote sustainable development in the coming generations (UNFPA 2005). 3.3.1. MEASURING WOMEN EMPOWERMENT IN RURAL INDIA One of the challenges is that the behaviors and attributes that signify empowerment in one context often have different meanings elsewhere. For example, a shift in women's ability to attend public meetings without a veil may not be a sign of empowerment in urban India, but it may well be in rural India, especially in Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh. Thus context is also important in determining the extent to which empowerment at the household or individual level is a determinant of development outcomes. Moreover, because women's empowerment and status are multi-dimensional, several measures have to be utilised to gauge women's status in various settings. Greater power or autonomy in one dimension and in one community is not expected to amount to the same in another (Sathar and Kazi 2000).
34

Keeping in view the rural context, the present study has attempted to measure women empowerment by considering basically five (5) important dimensions of it. These dimensions are dynamic, interlinked and mutually reinforcing and recognise the fact that the level of gender equality and empowerment are directly proportional. These dimensions are as follows: Gender Equality Gender equality implies a society in which women and men enjoy the same opportunities, outcomes, rights and obligations in all spheres of life. Since gender equality and women empowerment are two sides of the same coin, measuring gender equality in a way means measuring women empowerment in a specific context. In the present study, by gender equality we mean equality between women and men, girls and boys in all aspects of life including child related concerns, domestic workload, social practices, and marriage and family related issues. Social Equality Social equality means that all citizens in a society are treated at par with each other and there will be no discriminatory treatment on the ground of caste, sex, religion, etc. In Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh, where casteism and feudal practices are all pervasive, women empowerment is directly proportional to social equality and related practices. The present study therefore conceptualizes social equality as one of the important constituents of women empowerment in the region. The four (4) contextual indicators of social equality towards women empowerment are: 1. Increased interaction between Dalit girl children and caste-girl children, 2. Dalit girl children no more sitting separately in schools, 3. Equal treatment of Dalit and caste women representatives (WRs) in Panchayat meetings, and 4. Growing respect of Dalit WRs among the village community.

35

Decision Making

Decision-making in one form or the other is at the heart of some of the best known attempts to conceptualize power (Kabeer 1999). The present study therefore takes decision-making power of women is an important indicator of women empowerment. It examines select decisions by women representatives typically

made in households. Decisions asked about are decisions regarding purchase of household food items, education of children (when, how much and where), buying and selling of land and other major household property, how many children the family should have, and use of family planning methods. Financial Autonomy Financial autonomy is one of the direct evidences of women empowerment. In a rural set up, Self Help Groups (SHGs) with women membership also play an important role in providing women with financial autonomy, and hence making women empowered. Therefore, the present study conceptualizes financial autonomy as a women empowerment tool in terms of the following five (5) indicators:

1. Increased number of SHGs in the village 2. More women in control of their own income (meaning women can spend their own earned income as per their own wish or understanding without interference) 3. More women in control of their family or household income, and 4. Increase in assets owned by women or purchased for women members

Personality Development The process of getting elected to PRIs is expected to enhance elected women representatives personality, thereby resulting in heightened women empowerment in a rural set-up. The present study, therefore, measures women empowerment in terms of a). Increased confidence level or self-esteem of WRs, and b). Increased dignity or respect of WRs among various stakeholders.
36

3.4

OTHER OPEARAIONAL FRAMEWORKS

As the present study is an attempt to study women empowerment in the context of participation and performance of Elected Women Representatives (EWRs) in Gram Panchayats, and also blocks to their participation and performance, a brief

description of the operational framework of these and other related concepts is given as under: 3.4.1 Participation in Gram Panchayats Womens participation in Gram Panchayats could be looked at three levels at the level of community at large, at the level of women members of Gram Sabha, and at the level of EWRs. The present study however attempts to analyze womens participation in Gram Panchayats in terms of a). Participation of EWRs in Gram Sabha or Panchayat Meetings, and b). Participation of EWRs in the Development Agenda or Panchayat Activities. 3.4.2 Awareness Awareness of EWRs has been studied in terms of a). Basic awareness of Panchayat provisions, such as awareness around Gram Sabha members, person who can convene Gram Sabha, frequency/regularity of Gram Sabha, etc. and b). Knowledge of key Panchayat provisions comprises information on electoral rules for Panchayat election, roles & responsibilities of ERs, etc. 4.4.3 Performance in Gram Panchayats The operational framework for performance of EWRs in Gram Panchayats has been explored in terms of three (3) performance indicators i). Implementation of key areas of Panchayati Raj development agenda, ii). Implementation of community development programmes, and iii). Interface with Government. In line with participation of EWRs in Gram Sabha, implementation of key areas of Panchayati Raj development agenda has been measured in terms of their performance in a). Making development plans for the Panchayat, b). Preparing
37

budget proposals for the Panchayat, c). Reviewing existing Panchayat Schemes or activities, and d). Identification of beneficiaries of Government Schemes. The performance of EWRs in implementation of community development programmes has also been considered in four (4) dimensions as - i). Undertaking health-related campaigns, ii). Waging drive against diseases, iii). Implementing family planning campaigns, and iv). Improving enrollment of girls in schools. 3.4.4 Blocks to Participation and Performance There are a number of blocks or barriers to participation and performance of WRs in Panchayat activities, which reflect unequal power relations and poor status of women in the region. In the present study, the four (4) interrelated dimensions of these blocks are a). Socio-economic blocks, b). Patriarchy-related or gender blocks, c). Proxy or surrogate-related blocks, and d). Caste-related blocks. 3.4.5 Capacity Building Training An important support mechanism for EWRs towards effective participation and performance in Gram Panchayats is capacity building training. The study considers basically four (4) dimensions of capacity building training. These are i). Is it given? What are its constituents? ii). Participation of EWRs in training, iii). Usefulness of training, and iv). Do EWRs need more training? If yes, in what? 3.4.6 Value Addition by Other Structures In the present study, membership of EWRs of, and participation in parallel village bodies (Village Education Committee, Village Health Committee, Village Water and Sanitation Committee, and Women Empowerment Committee) and community based organizations (Self Help Groups, Mahila Mandals, Joint Management Committee, and Cooperative Society) in the villages have also been conceptualized as support mechanisms, enabling them for greater participation and performance in Gram Panchayats. The study diagram (Figure 4) reflecting the conceptual framework is given below:

38

Figure 3: Women Empowerment and Panchayati Raj: A Study of Women Representatives in Bundelkhand Region of Uttar Pradesh
Women

Background Variables
(Age, marital Status, Social Category, Education, Economic Status, etc)
Is it given? What is given? Participation in training?

Training
Usefulness? Basic Awareness of PRI Provisions

Awareness
Knowledge of Key Areas

More training? In what?

Participation in Gram Sabha Meetings

Participation
Participation in PR Development Agenda

Gender Equality

Socio-economic related

Social Equality Works Related to Improving the Status of Women

Patriarchy related

Women
Empowerment
Decision Making

Blocks

Proxy/ surrogate related

Performance

In the Implementation of Key Areas of PR Development Agenda In the Implementation of Community Development Programmes Interaction with Government Functionaries and Activities Monitoring Government Functionaries and Activities

Financial Autonomy

Caste related

Personality Development

Gender related

Interface with Government

Value addition by other structures

Functioning of parallel bodies

Functioning of CBOs

39

Chapter-4 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION


4.0 INTRODUCTION

This chapter presents the results and discussion of the present study in five sections, namely, socio-economic profile of women representatives; awareness, participation and role performance; nature and extent of women empowerment; blocks to women representatives; and role of capacity building training and enabling structures for women representatives, by analyzing the data obtained from 369 interview schedules in 7 blocks, one each from 7 districts of Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh. The quantitative data is supplemented with data collected from secondary sources and experiences collated from case studies of select respondents from the field. 4.1. SOCIO-DEMOGRAPHIC PROFILE OF WOMEN REPRESENTATIVES
Table 4.1: Respondent Panchayat Representatives Women Men Total Description Ward Members 129 42 171 (58.6 (57.5) (58.4) Pradhans 39 21 60 (17.7) (28.8) (20.5) Defeated & Former 52 10 62 Representatives (23.6) (13.7) (21.2) Total 220 73 293 (100) (100) (100)
Note: Defeated & Former Representatives consist of Ward Members and Pradhans; and figures in brackets represent percentage of total samples drawn.

Since the focus of the study was on women empowerment and participation of elected women representatives (EWRs) in

Panchayati Raj, the proportion of women covered in survey was deliberately kept larger 70.2%

(259) in comparison to men 29.8% (110). Of the total women respondents, 84.5% (220) were Women Representatives (WRs), while the rest 14.5% (39) were Community Members. Of the total WRs, however, 129 (58.6%) were Ward Members, followed by 39 (17.7%) Pradhans, and 52 (23.6%) Defeated & Former Representatives, i.e., defeated or former women Ward Members or Pradhans (Table 4.1). 4.1.1 Age-Profile of Women Representatives

The age-wise analysis of WRs shows that the majority of them were in the reproductive age group between 21-40 years (20.9% between 21-30 years, and 44.5%

40

between 31-40 years). Another 22.7 percent were in the next bracket, between 41-50 years. Only a small portion, 6.8% were above 50 years (Table 4.2). This trend is confirmed by a series of studies1. This is also indicative of a progressive change from prior to the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act. One previous study, for example, found that most elected women were aged 40 years or older, explained on the basis that older women enjoy greater freedom regarding physical mobility and are relatively less burdened by household chores and child care (Datta, 1998). Another study noted that while a slight majority of women were in the older grouping (above 46 years), a significant number of women were elected from the younger age group, which the author attributed to changing family mindsets and politically ambitious men seeking to fulfill ambitions through their wives (Singla, 2007). Compared to Pradhans, Ward Members were younger (Figure 4.1) as a higher proportion of the latter (25.6% and 45%) belonged to the 21-30 and 31-40 age groups, respectively, than the former (15.4% and 38.5%). In the middle (41-50 years) and high (Above 50 years) age groups, the proportion of Ward
25.6% 15.4% 13.5% 45.0% 38.5% 48.1%

Figure 4.1: Age of Women Representatives


5.4% 24.0% 38.5% 28.8% 7.7% 9.6%

Ward Members

Pradhans

Defeated & Former WRs Above 50 Yrs

Members was less, in comparison to the Pradhans. Ministry of Panchayat Raj

21-30 Yrs

31-40 Yrs

41-50 Yrs

(2008) also highlights that female Ward Members are younger to their Pradhan counterparts, as at the all-India level, a higher proportion of female Ward Members (40%) belonged to the 21-25 age group than female Pradhans (33%).

Kaushik, Susheela (1998), Participation of Women in Panchayati Raj in India: A Stock Taking (New Delhi: National Commission for Women) which observed that 74% of EWRs belonged to the 20-40 age group; Centre for Womens Development Studies (CWDS) (1999), From Oppression to Assertion: A study of Panchayats and Women in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and S Uttar Pradesh, CWDS, New Delhi which concluded that 69% of EWRs were below 45 years of age; and Santha, E.K (1999)., Political Participation of Women in Panchayati Raj, Haryana, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, Occasional Paper Series 24, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi for which Kerala and Tamil Nadu had drawn a majority of women under 40 years and Haryana a majority over 40 years.

41

In comparison to OBC (20.2%) and General Category (34.8%) WRs, a lower proportion of Dalit or SC WRs (18.6%) were from the 21-30 age group and relatively high from the 31-40 age group (Table 4.2). This reflects the fact that Dalit WRs tended to be older than their OBC and General Category counterparts in the region. The reasons being, Dalit women are married and have children at an early age and usually only after 30 years of age they are somewhat free from child bearing responsibilities, though not too free from child rearing, household and other responsibilities.
Table 4.2: Age of Women Representatives by Social Category (%) Category 21-30 Yrs 31-40 Yrs 41-50 Yrs Above 50 Yrs SC 18.6 47.8 23.9 9.7 OBC 20.2 41.7 33.3 4.8 General 34.8 39.1 26.1 0.0 Total 20.9 44.5 27.7 6.8

N 113 84 23 220

4.1.2.

Educational Level of Women Representatives Education is a central force of empowerment that can enable women
Total 113 (100) 84 (100) 23 (100) 220 (100)

Table 4.3: Education of Women Representatives by Social Category


Illiterate Category SC OBC General Total 71 (62.8) 41 (48.8) 4 (17.4) 116 (52.7) Education Class Class 1 to 7 8 to 10 34 5 (30.1) (4.4) 30 9 (35.7) (10.7) 10 6 (43.5) (26.1) 74 20 (33.6) (9.1) Class 11 & above 3 (2.7) 4 (4.8) 3 (13.0) 10 (4.5)

to

exercise

real

political power as Panchayat representatives ways. It in multiple the

supports

acquisition of knowledge and skills necessary for women to be able to lead local

Note: Figures in brackets represent percentage of total samples drawn.

development and engender cultural change in values for equality and nondiscrimination (Mangubhai, 2009). As presented in Table 5.3, the majority of WRs in the region were illiterate (52.7%). Kaushik's study (1998) confirms this finding for Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, where 25 percent of the EWRs surveyed were unable to read and write. However, Kaushik's study shows that in Tamil Nadu, Orissa and the Garhwal region of U.P., there are very few illiterate WRs. Illiteracy among Dalit or SC WRs (62.8%), in comparison to General Category and OBC WRs (17.4% and 62.8% respectively), was substantially higher (Table 4.3). As
42

against 43.5% of General Category and 35.7% of OBC WRs, only 30.1% of Dalit WRs were from Class 1 to 7 education category. Their proportion was also relatively lower in other higher education groups. Hence, as has been the trend in other parts of India2, the educational deprivation of Dalit WRs in Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh was higher than their General Category and OBC counterparts. Educational attainment was greater for
Figure 4.2: Educational Attainment of WRs
WRs esentatives 1.6%
7.0% 27.9% 36.5% 48.7%
2.3%

2.6%
2.6%

3.8% 7.7%
1.9%

Pradhans,

in

comparison

to,

Ward

17.9%

Members. Not only was the proportion that passed Class 8 to 10 and Class 11 & above higher, but there was also fewer

61.2% 28.2%

50.0%

illiterates

among

the

Pradhans

as

compared to Ward Members (Figure 4.2).


Defeated & Former WRs Class 8 to10

Ward Members Illiterate Class 11 to 12

Pradhans Class 1 to 7 Above Class 12

As

against

27.9% around

of

women of

Ward women

members,

48.7%

Pradhans were in Class 1 to 7 education category. Corroborating this trend, Ministry of Panchayat Raj (2008) also observed that educational attainment of female Pradhans were greater than that of female Ward members at the all-India level. Among the interviewed female Pradhans, 52.4 percent had, reportedly, passed middle school or higher, as compared to 37.1 percent of the female Ward Members. 4.1.3. Primary Occupation of Women Representatives

To assess which activity engages WRs most, questions pertaining to their primary occupation from the point of view of time spent on it was collected through survey. An analysis of data on primary occupation by position in the Panchayat shows that WRs spend their time primarily in performing household works (41.4%) and only for
2

Mangubhai, Jayshree et al (2009), Dalit Womens Right to Political Participation in Rural Panchayati Raj: A Study of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, Justitia et Pax Netherlands pointed out that

43

a negligible proportion of them (0.9%), Panchayat activities constituted the primary occupation, engaging most of their time. The primary occupation of the rest of the WRs was farming (27.7), labour works (27.7%) and small business (2.3%) (Figure 4.3).
Figure 4.3: Primary Occupation on the Basis of Time Spent
31.8% 48.1% 1.6% 36.4% 5.1% 10.3% 30.2% 20.5% 64.1%

A sizable proportion of the Ward Members reported their primary occupation as labour works (36.4%), followed by household works (31.8%) and farming activities (30.2%).

5.8%
19.2%

Surprisingly, for none of the Ward Members, Panchayat work was their prime occupation with respect to time spent. On the other hand, reflecting the overall trend, Pradhans spent their time mostly in performing household works (64.1%), followed by

26.9%

Ward Members Farming Small Business

Pradhans Labourer Housewife

Defeated & Former WRs Panchayat Work

farming activities (20.5%), and labour works (10.3%). Only 5.1% of them could spend time for Panchayat works. This may be accounted for the fact that Pradhans, being senior Panchayat functionaries, spend more time in executing their role, as compared to Ward Members.

Table 4.4: Primary Occupation of Women Representatives by Social Category


Category SC OBC General Total Farming 34 (30.1) 25 (29.8) 2 (8.7) 61 (27.7) Labourer 44 (38.9) 16 (19.0) 1 (4.3) 61 (27.7) Primary Occupation Panchayat Work Small Business 1 3 (0.9) (2.7) 0 2 (0.0) (2.4) 1 0 (4.3) (0.0) 2 5 (0.9) (2.3) Total Housewife 31 (27.4) 41 (48.8) 19 (82.6) 91 (41.4) 113 (100) 84 (100) 23 (100) 220 (100)

Note: Figures in brackets represent percentage of total samples drawn

To none of the social groups of WRs, Panchayat work was their prime occupation with respect to time spent (Table 4.4). A sizable proportion of Dalit WRs, however, reported their primary occupation as labour works (38.9%), followed by farming activities (30.1%) and household works (27.4). Mangubhai (2009) also found that the
44

majority of Dalit women seeking election to the Panchayats in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu were from the labour class. This high proportion of WRs engaged in labour and household works would have implications for their confidence and ability to move freely in public spaces, as well as capacity to speak and engage with others in public for a, including fellow Panchayat members, district administration officials, contractors and others. The high dependency on wage labor employment for livelihood also leaves Dalit WRs with a poor economic base and a higher underemployment rate. This results in a higher level of poverty. 4.1.4. Marital Status and Religious Affiliation

As expected, given their age group, most of the WRs interviewed (94.5%) were married. There was no major difference by position or social category. Thus the vast majority of the WRs are women of some maturity with family responsibilities of their own. The implications are that they have to juggle their household responsibilities alongside their Panchayat responsibilities. This highlights the importance of family support to leave women free from household responsibilities. As for religious affiliation, except for Banda, where 2 respondents reported to be Muslims, entire WRs covered in the survey were Hindu (99.1%). 4.1.5. Economic Profile of Women Representatives

The economic profile of the WRs was understood by collecting information regarding their economic status, i.e., Above Poverty Line (APL), Below Poverty Line (BPL) and under Antyodaya Scheme as per the Village List; their land ownership status, and house type (Kutcha, Semi-Pucca or Pucca). 4.1.5.1. Economic Status

The economic status of more than half (59.1%) of WRs was above the poverty line (APL) as per the Village List reported by the respondents. There was a higher proportion of APL individuals among Pradhans (79.5%) as compared to Ward Members (51.9%) and Defeated & Former WRs (61.5%) (Table 4.5). Around 25.9% of
45

all WRs were, reportedly, below the poverty line, the majority of this category being Ward Members (75.4%) rather than Pradhans (5.3%) and Defeated & Former WRs (19.3%). This indicates, overall that women Pradhans are better off than other WRs.
Table 4.5: Economic Status of Women Representatives by Position and Social Category
APL BPL 43 (33.3) 3 (7.7) 11 (21.2) 39 (34.5) 15 (17.9) 3 (13.0) 57 (25.9) Antyodaya 13 (10.1) 4 (10.3) 6 (11.5) 17 (15.0) 6 (7.1) 0 (0.0) 23 (10.5) Not Aware 6 (4.7) 1 (2.6) 3 (5.8) 4 (3.5) 5 (6.0) 1 (4.3) 10 (4.5) N 129 (100) 39 (100) 52 (100) 113 (100) 84 (100) 23 (100) 220 (100)

By Position
Ward Members Pradhans Defeated & Former WRs 67 (51.9) 31 (79.5) 32 (61.5) 53 (46.9) 58 (69.0) 19 (82.6) 130 (59.1)

By Social Category
SC OBC General Total WRs

Note: Figures in brackets represent percentage of total samples drawn

The proportion of APL individuals was highest in case of WRs from General Category (82.6%), followed by OBC (69%) and SC (46.9%) categories. The majority of the BPL group consisted of Dalit (68.4%), followed by OBC (26.3%) and General Category (5.3%) WRs. Around 10.5% of all WRs were, reportedly, under the

Antydaya Scheme, the majority of this group being Dalit WRs, followed by OBC (26.1%). None of the General Category WRs were part of the Antyodaya group. 4.1.5.2. Land Ownership Status

Land ownership status of WRs shows that more than half (58.6%) were land owners, while around one-fifths (28.7%) were in landless category. Nearly 10.9% reported as tenants, followed by 4.5% as both land owner and tenants. Compared to the Ward Members, land ownership status of the Pradhans was better (Table 4.6) as a higher proportion of the latter (71.8%) belonged to the landowner group than the former (56.6%). Out of one-fifths (28.7%) of total WRs reporting as landless, the majority were Ward Members (64.9%) rather than Pradhans (10.5%) and Defeated & Former WRs (24.6%). This also indicates that women Pradhans are better off than other WRs.
46

Table 4.6: Land Ownership Status of Women Representatives by Position and Social Category (%)
Landless Landowner Tenant Landowner & Tenant 5 (3.9) 3 (7.7) 2 (3.8) 2 (1.8) 6 (7.1) 2 (8.7) 10 (4.5) N

By Position
Ward Members Pradhans Defeated & Former WRs 37 (28.7) 6 (15.4) 14 (26.9) 41 (36.3) 14 (16.7) 2 (8.7) 57 (25.9) 73 (56.6) 28 (71.8) 28 (53.8) 63 (55.8) 51 (60.7) 15 (65.2) 129 (58.6) 14 (10.9) 2 (5.1) 8 (15.4) 7 (6.2) 13 (15.5) 4 (17.4) 24 (10.9) 129 (100) 39 (100) 52 (100) 113 (100) 84 (100) 23 (100) 220 (100)

By Social Category
SC OBC General Total WRs

In comparison to OBC and General Category WRs (65.2% and 60.7%, respectively), the proportion of Dalit WRs (55.8%) was lower in the landowner group and relatively higher in the landless group. This reflects the fact that land ownership status of Dalit WRs in Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh is worse than their OBC and General Category counterparts. 4.1.5.3. Type of House

The majority of WRs in Uttar Pradesh Bundelkhand had either Kachha (35.9%) or Semi-Pucca (35.0%) houses. The proportion with Pucca houses was 29.1 percent only. Pucca house type was greater in the case of Pradhans (53.8%), in comparison to, Ward Members (15.5%) and Defeated & Former WRs (44.2%). The majority of the Kutchha houses were owned by Dalit (43.4%), followed by OBC (32.1%) and General Category (13%) WRs. This again indicates towards a greater vulnerability of Dalit WRs. 4.1.6. PROFILE OF MALE REPRESENTATIVES

As mentioned in Chapter-3, the idea behind selection of male representatives (MRs) was to get a varied response on issues of women empowerment and participation & performance of women elected representatives, and to negate any kind of bias that
47

could have resulted otherwise. Interviews of MRs either current Pradhans or Ward Members, or former Pradhans or Ward Members were conducted in the sample Gram Panchayats. However, there was no fixed sampling plan for MRs separately. Hence, the demographic profile and other aggregate findings have been presented for them as a whole. Across 7 districts, 73 such MRs were covered under the study, of which 42 were Ward Members, 21 were Pradhans, and the rest 10 were Former MRs either Pradhans or Ward Members. As observed in the case of serving WRs, 94.5 percent of the MRs were Hindus and 5.5 percent were Muslims. The proportion that had passed Class 11 & above was 30.1 percent, but more than one-fifth (21.9%) was illiterate. All the interviewed MRs were married. The majority of MRs were Dalits (47.9), followed by OBC (43.8%) and General Category (8.2%) (Table 4.7).
Table 4.7: Socio-Demographic Profile of Male Representatives (%) Male Representatives (N=73) Position Ward Members Pradhans Former MRs SC OBC General Hindu Muslim 21-30 yrs 31-40 yrs 41-50 yrs Above 50 yrs 57.5 (58.6) 28.8 (17.7) 13.7 (23.6) 47.9 (51.4) 43.8 (38.2) 8.2 (10.5) 94.5 (99.1) 5.5 (0.9) 15.1 (20.9) 45.2 (44.5) 19.2 (27.7) 20.5 (6.8)

Social category

Religion

Age-Group

Educational Level

Illiterate 21.9 (52.7) Class 1 to7 26.0 (33.6) Class 8 to 10 21.9 (9.1) Class 11 & above 30.1 (4.5) Note: Figures in brackets represent comparable data for women representatives (N=220) in percentage terms

The economic status of the MRs, according to the Village List, shows that 72.3 percent had APL status, followed by 19.2 percent with BPL status and 8.2 percent under Antyodaya Scheme. When occupations were considered, 50% of MRs were found to be engaged in farming, 19% in labour works, 2 percent in small business, while 2 percent were engaged in Panchayat-related work.
48

4.1.7.

PROFILE OF COMMUNITY MEMBERS

The objective of interviews with community members (CMs) was to understand their perceptions about women empowerment, participation & performance of women Pradhans and Ward Members, and other related issues. CMs consisted of village leaders (other than Panchayat representatives), social workers and ordinary individuals. They were interviewed irrespective of gender. Hence, no proportion was fixed for men or women respondents in this segment of the survey. On the whole, across 7 districts of Uttar Pradesh Bundelkhand, 76 such CMs were covered under the study, of which 39 (51.3%) were women CMs and 37 (48.7%) were male CMs. As for social background, both SC and OBC categories had equal share among the total respondents (44.7%), while General Category made up about 10.5 percent. As with the cases of women and male representatives, 98.7 percent of the CMs were Hindus, while only 1.3% of them were Muslims.
Table 4.8: Socio-Demographic Profile of Community Members (%) Community Members (N=76) Women Men SC OBC General 21-30 yrs 31-40 yrs 41-50 yrs Above 50 yrs Married Single Widow/widower Illiterate Class 1 to7 Class 8 to 10 Class 11 & above

Gender Social Category

51.3 48.7 44.7 44.7 10.5 13.2 52.6 23.7 10.5 90.8 6.6 2.6 47.4 11.8 22.4 18.4

Age-Group

Marital Status

Education

In terms of their age profile, 13.2 percent, 52.6 percent, and 23.7 percent, respectively, fell within the 21-30, 31-40 and 41-50 age brackets. Only 10.5% of the CMs were above 50 years of age. About 90.8 percent of them were married (Table 4.8).

49

The economic status of the CMs shows that 63.2 percent of the respondents had APL status while 31.6 percent were BPL. On the other hand, while 48.7 percent reported farming as their primary occupation, 21.2 percent of respondent CMs were primarily engaged in labour works. In terms of land ownership, more 60.5 percent were landowner, while 23.7 percent were in the landless category.

50

4.2. 4.2.1

PARTICIPATION, AWARENESS AND ROLE PERFORMANCE Introduction

Meaningful participation in Gram Panchayats; awareness of Panchayat provisions; and effective role performance in implementation of key areas of Panchayati Raj agenda are some of the basic interrelated attributes of Panchayat representatives that are critical to women empowerment and the functioning of a healthy democratic local self governance system. As elected representatives, and therefore as duty bearers, WRs have an obligation to exercise their constitutional rights to participation in order to fulfill their responsibilities towards claim holders, that is, their constituencies. It is only through adequate information and quality participation and role performance in the Panchayats that they would be able to fulfill the obligations to the people, who elected them. Given the unequal position women are placed in caste-class-gender hierarchy, however, whether they as democratically elected representatives vested with political authority are actually able to enjoy their right to participate and perform in PRIs and contribute towards women empowerment at the grassroots level becomes a matter of enquiry. 4.2.2 Participation of Women Representatives in Gram Panchayats

The point of reference for participation of WRs in Panchayati Raj is generally their representation in term of numbers or percentages. This does not help in adequate understanding, because representation does not, in itself, constitute evidence of participation. Therefore, instead of resorting to broad-brush inference based on data on representation, this study sought to gather evidence about participation in terms of three basic indicators i). Organization and frequency of Gram Sabha, ii). Participation in Gram Sabha, and ii). Participation in development agenda of Panchayats. This is based on the assumption that representation is a necessary, but by no means sufficient, condition for participation. As such, we start by recording the number of Gram Sabha organized in villages, in which WRs, by virtue of their special responsibilities, are expected to participate.

51

4.2.2.1

Gram Sabha: Organization and Frequency

One of the manifestations of participation of ERs in Gram Panchayats is organization and frequency of Gram Sabha (GS) in the villages. Out of the contacted 369 respondents, 319 (86.4%) reported organization of GS meetings in their villages. Among them, ERs (Ward Members and Pradhans together) in general reported higher frequency of Gram Sabha meetings than Non-Elected Respondents (Community Members and Defeated & Former Representatives).
Table 4.9: Number of Times Gram Sabha Meetings held in a year (%) Frequency of Gram Sabha meetings Respondents Once Twice Thrice Four times & above 5.4 37.9 29.6 27.1 Elected Representatives (ERs) 16.4 33.6 32.8 17.2 Non-Elected Respondents

N 203 116

Total

9.4

36.4

30.7

23.5

319

As Table 4.9 shows, over two-third (76.5%) of the total respondents (72.9% of elected representatives and 82.8% of non-elected respondents) reporting organization of Gram Sabha said that the frequency of Gram Sabha varied only between one (1) to three (3) meetings per year. This is contrast to the findings of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj study (2008), where elected representatives (at the all-India level) reported that on an average six Gram Sabha were organized in each village during their current term. The average was seven with Pradhans and six in the case of Ward Members. One of the reasons for less number of Gram Sabha reported from Uttar Pradesh Bundelkhand could be attributed to the fact that the duration of the current terms of Panchayats varied from state to state. Therefore, the all-India figure for Gram Sabha is not comparable to that for the region. The other reasons are administrative in nature (e.g. Pradhan indisposed, quorum not met, etc) and nonawareness of the respondents, so far as the organization and frequency of Gram Sabha are concerned. Maintaining a quorum3 for the Gram Sabha is an important norm, and therefore an important yardstick to assess quality of participation of ERs in Gram Sabhhas. The
The quorum is the minimum number of registered voters or representatives of households required to be present in order to hold a Gram Sabha meeting. In Uttar Pradesh, it is one-fifth of the total member.
3

52

data presented in Table 4.10 show that nearly 34.5 percent of the ERs (Ward Members and Pradhans) reporting organization of Gram Sabhas said that quorum was not formed, while the majority (43.3%) was not even aware of quorum formation at Gram Sabhas. This was stated more often in the case of Ward Members than Pradhans and more by Dalit than Non-Dalit representatives.
Table 4.10: Formation of Quorum for Gram Sabha Meetings Gram Sabha Quorum formed? No Not aware Occasionally Ward Members 37.9 48.3 9.0 Dalit 46.4 49.3 4.3 Non-Dalit 30.3 47.4 13.2 Pradhans 25.9 31.0 20.7 Dalit 21.4 50.0 21.4 Non-Dalit 30.0 13.3 20.0 Total ERS 34.5 43.3 12.3 Dalit 39.2 49.5 9.3 Non-Dalit 30.2 37.7 15.1 N Yes 4.8 0.0 9.2 22.4 7.1 36.7 9.9 2.1 17.0 145 69 76 58 28 30 203 97 106

A typical Gram Sabha (2013) in Jhandu Ka Purva, Banda. Look at the back seat women members take in the region.

4.2.2.2

Participation in Gram Sabha

To study the extent of participation of women representatives in Gram Sabha, five (5) distinct questions related to participation (in Gram Sabha) were asked from the respondents. Using the Likert scale in the interview schedule, these questions were mainly concerning the frequency and punctuality of WRs in attending Gram Sabha, their speaking habits, and making prior preparations and exercise of voting rights in Gram Sabha.
53

Table 4.11 shows a moderate level of participation of WRs in Gram Sabha meetings. Apart from 31.9 percent of the WRs never participating in Gram Sabhas and 35.1 percent being unaware of their participation,

Table 4.11: Participation in Gram Sabha Meetings No Ward Members Dalit Non-Dalit Pradhans Dalit Non-Dalit Total ERs Dalit Non-Dalit 33.9 39.3 28.3 26.3 33.6 20.0 31.9 37.9 26.0 Dont know 33.7 32.6 34.8 39.0 35.0 42.5 35.1 33.2 36.9 Yes 32.4 28.0 36.9 34.7 31.4 37.5 33.0 28.9 37.1 N 171 87 84 60 28 32 231 115 116

around 33 percent of WRs did participate in Gram Sabhas in one

way or the other. Participation was reported more by Pradhans than Ward Members and by Non-Dalit representatives than Dalit representatives.
Figure 4.4: Participation of WRs in Gram Sabha Meetings
Exercise voting rights? Prior preparation? Speak up? How punctual? How often?
16% 22% 19% 38% 66% 33% 34% 33% 46% 29% 51% 44% 48% 16% 5%

Compared to low attendance, nonpunctuality, and lack of eloquence, poor prior preparedness and nonexercise of voting rights by WRs emerged as main reasons for the moderate participation level of WRs.

No

Don't know

Yes

For the proportion of no and dont know response categories, 95 (66 plus 29) percent and 84 (38 plus 46) percent, respectively, were highest for questions relating to prior preparation and exercise of voting rights by WRs in Gram Sabha (Figure 4.4). Thus participation of WRs in Gram Sabha appears to be more symbolic and less substantive in nature. Lower participation of WRs in Panchayat meetings has been supported by many earlier studies. Sarkar (2004) observed that the participation level of the respondent elected women members in Panchayat meetings in two backward districts of northern part of West Bengal was also quite low only 21 percent respondents participated fully and a considerable number did not participate at all. Sukhdev Singh and Verminder Kaur (2007) revealed that majority of the women Panchayat members (51.7%) never participated even in case of invitation, largely due to pre-occupation in domestic chores and social obstacles. The level of participation
54

was also not very encouraging as only one-fifth of the total respondent women members held that they fully participated in the decision making process. About half of them did not give any time at all towards the Panchayat work. Kumari and Singh (2012) reported that only 40 percent of the women members in Bihar made prior preparations during meetings, while only 18 percent exercised voting rights. The number of women who spoke during the meetings was 48 percent. According to a study undertaken by Bal Vikas Social Service Society in Andhra Pradesh (2009), elected women members were reluctant to participate in the meetings due to their lack of communication and public speaking skills. This has been a deterrent in their participation in decision making in the local bodies, despite the provision of reservation.
Box-1 Dont attend Panchayat meetings, because dont get information: Meera Meera, 44, is a Dalit Ward Member from Piprahari Gram Panchayat. She fought election because her husband asked her so. Ever since she was elected, she has only once attended a Panchayat meeting, because, in her own words, I dont get information of any such meetings. The Pradhan and other Dabang (upper caste) members have vested interest. They think if women, especially Dalit women start attending meetings, then what will happen to them, how can they do what they want to do? She is also peeved at the fact that the Government has not provided her with any sort of training so far. Unless I know what is my role and responsibilities, and how much money has arrived for the Panchayat and for what schemes, how do I confront the Pradhan, she asks.

Meera, a Dalit Ward Member from Piprahari

Lower participation level of Dalit representatives in Gram Sabha meetings, most of which are illiterate and engaged in labour works or farming for livelihood, is also a reflection of the fact that their experiences are still governed by dominant caste male control over Panchayat resources and ingrained discriminatory attitudes toward them. Many of the WRs, especially Dalit WRs, function either as proxies or face strong opposition and obstructions while attempting to work for the benefit of their community. Vested interests dont enable them to participate. Often, they are not even informed about meetings (Box-1).

55

4.2.2.3

Participation in Development Agenda of Panchayats

Substantive participation of WRs is limited not only to participation in Gram Sabhas, but also in the development agenda of the Panchayats, which include among others, preparation of development plans, making budget proposals, review of the implementation of existing schemes, attending community meetings to discuss local community issues, and identification or selection of beneficiaries of the Government schemes in Panchayati Raj.
Table 4.12: Participation of Women Representatives in Development Agenda of Panchayats (%) No Don't know Yes N Ward Members Dalit Non-Dalit Pradhans Dalit Non-Dalit Total ERs Dalit Non-Dalit 48.1 58.2 37.6 47.0 65.7 30.6 47.8 60.0 35.7 44.3 35.4 53.6 41.7 26.4 55.0 43.6 33.2 54.0 7.7 6.4 8.8 11.4 7.8 14.4 8.5 6.8 10.4 171 87 84 60 28 32 231 115 116

In comparison to the moderate participation level of WRs in Gram Sabha, participation in the of

development

agenda

Panchayats was lower. This is quite natural because participation in the development agenda of Panchayats requires many other attributes on the part of the ERs

and goes beyond simple representation in Panchayats. Apart from a high 47.8 percent of the WRs not participating and an equally high 43.6 percent quite unaware of their participation, nearly 8.5 percent reported as active participants in the development agenda of Panchayats. Participation was again reported more by Pradhans than Ward Members and by Non-Dalit representatives than Dalit representatives (Table 4.12). All the constituents of participation in the development agenda of Panchayats, namely, preparation of development plans, making budget proposals, review of the implementation of existing schemes, attending community meetings to discuss local community issues, and identification or selection of beneficiaries of the Government schemes in Panchayati Raj seem to have played equal role in low value for the WRs. For the combined proportion of no and dont know response categories (ranging between 87. 5% to 96.1%) and that of yes (ranging between 3.9% to 12.5%) is more or less similar (Figure 4.4).
56

Figure 4.4: Participation in Panchayat Development Agenda


Identify beneficiaries 53.7% Attend community meetings? Review existing schemes? Prepare budget? 49.4% Prepare development plans? 44.6% 6.1% 34.6% 11.7%

Assessing

the

participation

of

women in PRIs and the factors affecting it in the states of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, Centre for

35.5%

55.8%

8.7%

55.0%

41.1%

3.9%

Social Research (2009) contended that most women remained only figurative Panchayat, members with of the actual
45.5% 42.0% 12.5%

No

Don''t know

Yes

responsibilities being shouldered by male family members. Sarkar (204) also observed that nearly 30% of the total women respondents at the Panchayat and Panchayat Samiti levels had never contributed towards any development issues of their respective villages/ constituencies.
Box-2 Cant run from pillar to post all the time, no one listens: Meena Meena, 30, married and educated upto Class-V, is a 30 year-old Dalit Ward Member from Sukaura Gram Panchayat of Kabrai, Mahoba. She was initially very enthusiastic about attending Panchayat meetings, understanding Panchayat procedures and trying to solve problems of her community, but not anymore. These days she hardly attends any, because first of all, there is hardly any meetings organized, and even if organized, they dont serve any purpose. She says, Pradhan never attends Panchayat meetings. All the time it is Pradhans husband who works on her behalf. Therefore, as a Ward Member, I have to deal with her husband only. My husband doesnt like me to talk to him. He is so crooked that in connivance with the Panchayat Secretary he takes all the decisions unilaterally. We are not even asked to sign on the Panchayat decisions. Maybe someone else does it on my behalf and for other Panchayat members as well. Who would I complain to? Who is there to listen to me? Last Meena, a Dalit Ward Member from Sukaura time when I asked the Panchayat Secretary as to why decisions Pipahari were taken without informing community members and even Ward Members, he asked me to keep quiet and send my husband instead to know. Having faced continuous problems with the PradhanPati and Panchayat officials, Meena seems to have developed a growing sense of cynicism about participating in the Panchayat development agenda.

Lower participation of WRs, especially Dalit WRs in Panchayat development agenda is again a reflection of the multiple disabilities of gender, caste and poverty in the region, and perhaps much of India. In most of the cases, the positions occupied by them are actually managed by members of the family or even dominant community
57

members. Many women claimed no participation also because their plans and demands were not considered, and everything was decided by the Pradhan, officials and dominant personality of major castes and communities. Thus they considered it wastage of time (Box-2). 4.2.3 Awareness of Women Representatives

A pre-requisite to effective participation and role performance in Gram Panchayats is the enjoyment of the rights to information and capacitation. This enables the women to fulfill their responsibilities in accessing development processes, institutions, information and redress or complaint mechanisms (Mangubhai et al 2009). Therefore, the study enquired about the awareness of women representatives on basic as well as key Panchayat provisions relevant to effective participation and role performance as Panchayat leaders. 4.2.3.1 Awareness of Panchayat Provisions
Table 4.13: Awareness of Basic Panchayat Provisions (%)
No Don't know Yes N

Basic awareness of WRs about Panchayat provisions was assessed in terms of five (5) basic awarenessrelated questions i). Who the members of Gram Sabha are, ii) Who can convene

Ward Members
Dalit Non-Dalit

28.9
31.0 26.7

47.5
46.9 48.1

23.6
22.1 25.2

171
87 84

Pradhans
Dalit Non-Dalit

26.0
28.6 23.8

48.0
47.1 48.8

26.0
24.3 27.5

60
28 32

Total ERs
Dalit Non-Dalit

28.1
30.4 25.9

47.6
47.0 48.3

24.2
22.6 25.9

231
115 116

Gram Sabha, iii). How many times Gram Sabha should at least be held in a year, iv). How to call a special Gram Sabha, and v). Percentage of seats reserved for women in Panchayati Raj. The results emerging from the composite awareness variable is presented in Table 4.13. An overwhelming majority (76.7%) of the WRs were either unaware or they didnt know about the basic Panchayat provisions. Only 24.2% reported in the aware category. Unawareness of basic Panchayat provisions of WRs thus renders their representation and participation in Gram Panchayats inconsequential. Significantly, the low awareness of WRs of basic Panchayat provisions was reported both across position and social category.
58

Figure 4.5: Awareness of Basic Panchayat Provisions


Women's reservation (%) in PRI? How to call special GS? No. of GS meetings/yr.? Know GS convenor? Know GS members?

The Centre for Social Research (2009) observed that the

38% 50% 26% 17% 10% 42% 50% 53%

47% 45%

15% 4% 21% 41% 40%

awareness level of Panchayat members is very poor regarding the importance of womens

reservation in PRIs, as well as regarding laws pertaining to

No

Don't know

Yes

women, financial aspects of the Panchayat and issues to be addressed by PRI, and this is also corroborated by the findings of the present study. The awareness of WRs was found particularly low regarding how to call a special Gram Sabha and provisions of womens reservation in PRIs. A mere 4 percent of the WR s were aware as to how to call a special Gram Sabha. However, a good 40 percent said they knew who the members of Gram Sabha are (Figure 4.5). Not surprisingly, knowledge of WRs on key Panchayat provisions, such as, electoral rules for Panchayat elections, roles & responsibilities of ERs in Gram Panchayat, development schemes at Panchayat level, Government officials dealing with such development schemes, and sources of funds available to implement development schemes have also been found utterly inadequate. A whopping 93.1 percent of WRs were either unaware or they didnt have full knowledge of Key Panchayat Provisions in a composite mode. In fact, the proportion of WRs having knowledge of any of these key Panchayat provisions ranged between 5 to 11 percent only. The main reasons behind such pathetically low awareness level of WRs on basic as well as key Panchayat provisions lie with the low education level, especially functional education and abysmally low participation level in Panchayat meetings and Panchayat development agenda, coupled preoccupation of WRs with household or livelihood earning activities. Poor educational status of WRs contributing to their overall poor awareness level is reflected from correlation value (0.215) between education and overall awareness of WRs, which is significant at the 0.01 level. On the other hand, proxy representation by husbands and other male relatives, which is

59

more a rule than exception in the region, by obstructing the formal engagement of WRs with Panchayat processes, such as attending and taking part in meetings, is not helping WRs to improve their awareness even through learning by doing routines (Box-3).

Box-3 Things would improve only with the passage of time, says Panchayat Secretary Dharmendra K Singh, Panchayat Secretary, Naugavaan Gram Panchayat, Naraini says that low level of education of WRs poses problem for them at various stages in their functioning. This problem is at both Gram Panchayat and block level. If WRs are educated their awareness would be higher and they will be less hesitant while interacting with different officials for necessary works. Expecting uneducated WRs with rural background, especially the first timers to be aware of Panchayat rules & regulations and procedures is asking for too much. Most of these women are hapless poor housewives struggling with their daily lives. Their world is mostly limited to cooking, washing clothes, doing dishes, taking care of children, Dharmendra K Singh, Panchayat Secretary, Naugavaan working in fields, and things like that. They are not even aware of their rights as women. How do we expect them come to the forefront, and start interacting with Government officials without knowing much about the structures and function of Panchayats, the issues involved and procedures to be followed? Most of the WRs are apprehensive, fearful, and remain silent during Panchayat or Gram Sabha meetings; many even avoid attending Panchayat meetings. Things would improve only with the passage of time, when they become increasingly aware about procedures, rules and programmes and keen to attend meetings and become bold enough to express them and without hesitation.

Several studies have reported on poor awareness level of WRs in other parts of the country as well. Observing that the knowledge of WRs about PRIs was limited to their traditional functions only, a study in Haryana (MARG, 1998) said WRs were unaware of the new Haryana Panchayati Raj Act and the functions assigned to Panchayats under it and also completely ignorant of the procedural aspects of welfare schemes, and the financial powers of Panchayat bodies. Benke (2011) also maintained that WRs in Maharashtra were unaware of their functions, duties and responsibilities. In fact, they did not know what role they have to play in the functioning of local government. The CWDS study (1999) however revealed a high level of awareness about reservations, but low levels of awareness about the powers and responsibilities of Panchayats. It also found literacy and education to be correlated with higher levels of awareness. The positive correlation between literacy
60

and education, on the one hand, and awareness, on the other, is reinforced by data from Tamil Nadu (Athreya, 1998) and the Garhwal region of Uttar Pradesh (Verma, 1998). 4.2.4 Role Performance of Women Representatives

Role performance of WRs is a broad concept, encapsulating various dimensions that were analyzed in this study. The indicators used to assess the role performance of WRs were: their role in implementation of Panchayati Raj development agenda, community development programmes, and their interface with the Government. These issues were further triangulated with response from the community members, the data related to which are presented in the following sections. 5.2.4.1 Implementation of Panchayati Raj Development Agenda

Gram Panchayats are empowered as institutions of local-self-government for planning and executing village level public works and their maintenance, ensuring the welfare of the people of the village including health, education, communal harmony, etc. As political functionaries, women representatives are also expected to perform these roles.
Figure 4.6: WRs and Discussion on Development Issues in Panchayat Meetings
Community Members Defeated & Former Representatives Pradhans 42.1% 21.1% 36.8%

Figure 4.6 shows the perception of the respondents development on WRs in discussing Panchayat

issues

35.5%

17.7%

46.8%

meetings. Nearly half (50%) of the respondents, cutting across positions, reported that WRs issues did in discuss

25.0%

25.0%

50.0%

Ward Members

31.6%

23.4%

45.0%

development
No Don't know Yes

Panchayat

meetings upon participation. The main

development issues discussed by WRs in Panchayat meetings included The main development issues discussed by WRs included drinking water supply or repair & maintenance of handpumps, construction/ repair of drainage, roads and school buildings; welfare schemes such as MNREGA, old age pension, PDS; and social issues like domestic violence, closure of liquor shops, etc.

61

Mangubhai et al (2009) in their study of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu observed that the most common issues raised by women members in Panchayat meetings were development or economic issues inclusion in BPL lists, increasing facilities, need to focus on the poor and Dalits or women, focus on common lands and usage by Dalits, etc. Linked to this was neglect in the implementation of various Panchayat

programmes or services. Implementation of key areas of Panchayati Raj development agenda was assessed in terms of performance of WRs in i) Making development plans for the Panchayat, ii). Making budget proposals for the Panchayats, iii). Reviewing the existing Panchayat schemes, and iv). Identification of beneficiaries of Government schemes.
Table 4.14: Implementation of Panchayati Raj Development Agenda (%)
Poor Ward Members Don't know Good N

As it appears from Table 4.14, a very high proportion (93.4%) of the total ERs either dont know what the performance of WRs is or they perceive it as poor. Only a tiny 6.6 percent reported that performance of WRs was good, so far as

Dalit Non-Dalit
Pradhans

Dalit Non-Dalit
Total ERs

Dalit Non-Dalit

51.0 46.8 55.4 36.7 42.9 31.3 47.3 45.9 48.7

43.9 47.4 40.2 52.5 43.8 60.2 46.1 46.5 45.7

5.1 5.7 4.5 10.8 13.4 8.6 6.6 7.6 5.6

171 87 84 60 28 32 231 115 116

implementation of key areas of Panchayati Raj development agenda

is concerned. Among those who reported good performance, the proportion of Pradhans, especially Dalit Pradhans, was more, in comparison to Ward Members. 4.2.4.2 Implementation of Community Development Programmes

One of the objectives of women empowerment through Panchayati Raj has been to broaden the focus of development to include issues that directly concern women and the community at large. The initiatives taken by ERs at the community level involve providing an enabling environment for ordinary citizens, especially women, both within and outside the household environment. To assess the constructive efforts undertaken by WRs for the development of the village community, their perceptions on various indicators was captured. As Figure 4.7 shows, as against 36.8 percent of
62

Community

Members,

nearly

half

(50%) of the Pradhans and 45 percent of the Ward Members perceived WRs playing a role in implementation of community development programmes. The data on gender and social

Figure 4.7: Role of WRs in Implementation of Community Development Programmes


Community Members Defeated & Former Representatives Pradhans 42.1% 21.1% 36.8%

35.5%

17.7%

46.8%

25.0%

25.0%

50.0%

Ward Members

31.6%

23.4%

45.0%

categories also revealed a similar trend.

No

Don't know

Yes

The four main community development programmes in which WRs do play a role in the region are: undertaking health-related campaigns, waging drive against diseases, implementing family planning campaigns, and improving the enrolment of girls in schools. To study the role performance of WRs in implementation of community development programmes, therefore, respondents were asked four (4) distinct questions concerning such efforts from WRs.
Table 4.15: Implementation of Community Development Programmes (%)
Poor Ward Members Dalit Non-Dalit Pradhans Dalit Non-Dalit Total ERs Dalit Non-Dalit
Don't know

The results show that a quarter (25%)


N

Good

of the respondent ERs, which is quite an impressive proportion, reported WRs to have played a good role in implementation development of community (Table

33.5 36.5 30.4 30.0 33.9 26.6 32.6 35.9 29.3

43.1 40.2 46.1 40.4 40.2 40.6 42.4 40.2 44.6

23.4 23.3 23.5 29.6 25.9 32.8 25.0 23.9 26.1

171 87 84 60 28 32 231 115 116

programmes

4.15). The proportion of WRs playing a good role was reported lower (23.9%) by Dalit ERs than by Non-

Dalit ERs (26.1%). This reflects the fact that compared to Non-Dalit caste groups; Dalits have so far been unable to reap the benefits of community development programmes. It also calls for special arrangements to be made so that everyone benefits from development. Amidst the current hopelessness around role performance of WRs in the region - be it implementation of development agenda of Panchayats or community

development programmes, there are amazing stories of success and hope as well.
63

Breaking the gender, caste, illiteracy and poverty blocks, some of the WRs have made impressive contributions to the cause of development in their respective Panchayats (Box-4).
Box-4 Sanjo: Fighting against the Odds and Succeeding Born into a poor Kol tribal family in Chitrakoot district of Bundelkhand, Sanjo has toiled hard to map a better life for herself and her family. Voluntary organizations in the region helped her to make the best use of the governments laws for the landless. Impressed with Sanjos courage and selfless service, the poorest families in her village wanted her to contest for the post of Pradhan in the Panchayat elections of 2005. Being a key member of the Patha Kol Adhikar Manch since 1994, she was certain to win the elections. Sanjo agreed to file her nomination from Girudha Panchayat, but feudal interests conspired with officials to get her name deleted from the electoral rolls. She had to struggle till the last moment to get her name re-entered. Sanjo won the elections with a big margin. Living and working in a feudal, dacoit-infested area, she overcame strong blocks and speeded up development work.

Sanjo, Pradhan, Girudhan

As Pradhan, Sanjo has paid special attention to distribution of land and housing plots for the weaker sections. Helped by other Panchayat members, she has taken up check dam projects and ensured pension to the elderly. During Panchayat elections in 2010, this seat was no longer reserved for women and several feudal interests had ganged up to defeat her. However, in the face of such heavy odds, Sanjo managed to win the election for the post of Pradhan once again. But Sanjo is an exception. Her life has been one of courageous and determined struggle against adverse circumstances. I have been working since the day I was conscious, she says. Along with her brothers she used to work for eight months in a year in stone quarries, returning home during Holi. After she got married and her husband left her to live with another woman, Sanjo brought up her daughter on her own. She helped set up self help groups, and along the way, learnt to ride a motorcycle and a tractor. Today, Sanjo thanks the local voluntary organisation ABSSS for helping her in difficult times and adds, Now our village is threatened by displacement in the name of wildlife protection. We need to establish wider unity to protect our villages

4.2.4.3

Interface with the Government

Interaction with Govt. Functionaries An attempt was also made to investigate the extent to which WRs interact with the local bureaucracy, line departments, and how much do they monitor Government schemes and functioning of officials while carrying out their duties as intermediaries between the people and the Government. Data shows that nearly 49 percent of the Ward Members and 46.7 percent of the Pradhans believe that WRs interact with Government functionaries, such as ANMs, Anganwadis, block officials, police and the local leaders (MLA, MP, etc), given the
64

executive

powers

vested

with

them, especially with Pradhans. Significantly, both at the Pradhan and Ward Member level, Dalit ERs reported a higher interaction with Government their functionaries than

Non-Dalit

counterparts

(Table 4.16). A higher proportion

Table 4.16: Interaction with Government Functionaries (%) No Don't know Yes Ward Members 40.6 10.4 49.0 Dalit 25.3 15.4 59.3 Non-Dalit 56.4 5.2 38.3 Pradhans 46.7 6.7 46.7 Dalit 35.0 8.6 56.4 Non-Dalit 56.9 5.0 38.1 Total ERs 42.2 9.4 48.4 Dalit 27.7 13.7 58.6 Non-Dalit 56.6 5.2 38.3

N 171 87 84 60 28 32 231 115 116

of Dalit WRs approaching Govt. functionaries indicates they are gradually establishing networks to increase their information on Panchayat schemes and administration, obtain advice and help on issues, and negotiate for schemes and funds to implement development schemes for their constituencies.
Box-5 Prevalent gender norms preventing interaction Mrs. Reena, 45, a social activist from Banda, says that WRs are still hesitant to interact with government officials and line departments due to a large number of proxy representation and prevalent gender norms. Usually, it is their husbands or male relatives who speak on their behalf and their role, if at all, is merely to deliver petitions drafted by other to the officials or the concerned line departments. Almost all WRs are escorted by husbands or male relatives, or other Panchayat members to meet with officials and line departments. WRs feel they should not or cannot go just because they do not feel comfortable or confident enough to interact with government officials and line departments, and because officials are mostly men. Compared to Non-Dalit WRs, according to Mrs. Reena, Dalit WRs are not so much bothered by the patriarchal obstacles in the region, and this reflects not only in their comparatively higher participation in Panchayat meetings, but also in higher interaction level with Government officials and line departments. The trend is partly also due to the fact that most of the rural development programs have special provisions for Dalits. Compared to Dalit WRs, Non-Dalit WRs dont know much about the government schemes and the procedures to get them implemented.

Among the five categories of Government functionaries, WRs interacted most frequently with ANMs (89%), followed by Anganwadi Workers (84%) and block officials (32%). Interestingly, it was lowest in the case of local police (10%), followed by local leaders (21%) and blocks officials (32%). Corroborating the trend, the Panchayati Raj study (2008) also observed that almost 70 percent of the ERs regularly
65

interacted with ANMs in one way or the other. There was however a significant difference between the Pradhan and the Ward Members in terms of interaction, with a much higher proportion of Pradhans (88%) reporting that they interacted with the ANM as compared to 65 percent of Ward Members. Interaction with Line Departments
Table 4.17: Interaction with Line Departments (%)
No Don't know Yes N

Besides the Government functionaries, WRs also need to interact with local line departments for various departmental

Ward Members Dalit Non-Dalit Pradhans Dalit Non-Dalit Total ERs Dalit Non-Dalit

77.3 64.1 91.1 74.2 64.3 82.8 76.5 64.1 88.8

7.6 11.2 3.9 10.8 10.7 10.9 8.4 11.1 5.8

15.1 24.7 5.1 15.0 25.0 6.3 15.0 24.8 5.4

171 87 84 60 28 32 231 115 116

issues. But WRs are often shy and lack confidence. Not surprisingly, therefore, only 15 percent of the WRs have been reported to have interaction with line departments. The proportion of Dalit WRs (both Ward Members and Pradhans)

interacting with line departments was much higher than that of their Non-Dalit counterparts, suggesting that Dalit WRs are more proactive in these matters. Patriarchy and associated stereotypes in the region dont haunt Dalit WRs as much as they do Non-Dalit WRs (Box-5).

Lower interaction of WRs with line departments is not confined to any particular department, but it appears to be an all pervasive or a department neutral phenomenon. The highest interaction was reported from Animal Husbandry Department (19%), followed by Electricity Department (16%), Irrigation Department (13%) and Forest Department (12%). Monitoring of Govt. Schemes/ Functioning of Officials WRs are expected to play the role of change agents and facilitate the development processes in their villages through effective monitoring of Government schemes and functioning of Government officials as well. Data reveals that nearly 31.8 percent of the respondents perceived WRs were engaged in monitoring of govt. schemes and
66

Table 4.18: Monitoring of Govt. Schemes/ Functioning of Officials (%)


No Ward Members Dalit Non-Dalit Pradhans Dalit Non-Dalit Total ERs Dalit Non-Dalit
Don't know

functioning of government officials at Panchayat level. Dalit ERs, both at the Pradhan and Ward Members level, reported a higher (35.7%) monitoring of Government schemes and functioning of Government officials by WRs than their Non-Dalit counterparts. studied Government Among the Schemes,

Yes

57.6 50.0 65.5 58.8 53.6 63.3 57.9 50.9 64.9

9.1 12.4 5.7 13.8 17.0 10.9 10.3 13.5 7.1

33.3 37.6 28.9 27.5 29.5 25.8 31.8 35.7 28.0

171 87 84 60 28 32 231 115 116

monitoring was reportedly highest in

case of Mid-day Meal Scheme (49%), followed by the functioning of school teachers (35%), PDS (25%) and MNREGA (19%).

Figure 4.8: Interface with Government by Social Categories (%)

Dalits
58
48

Non-Dalit

Total

38 25
15

36
32

28

Interaction with Govt. functionaries

Interaction with line Depts.

Monitoring of Govt. schemes

A higher proportion of Dalit WRs (as compared to Non-Dalit WRs) interacted with the Government in the region in respect of all three interface variables, namely, interaction with Government functionaries, interaction with line departments, and monitoring of Government schemes/ functioning of officials definitely gives the hope that these interactions would strengthen participation of Dalit WRs in Panchayats, and their responsiveness to peoples needs.

67

4.3.

NATURE AND EXTENT OF WOMEN EMPOWERMENT

Representation in political decision-making bodies and the empowerment of marginalized groups are two quite distinct concepts and so is the specific nature of political representation and political participation (Hust 2004). However, there is no denying the fact that womens reservation under PRI has opened up the spaces where women can acquire the necessary expertise that historically has been denied to them. It is important therefore to focus on the effect the representation through reservation on the extent of women empowerment in the region. 4.3.1 Extent of Women Empowerment To study the extent of women empowerment in rural Bundelkhand of Uttar Pradesh, Likert scale was used in the interview schedule under five (5) key empowerment variables - i). Gender equality, ii). Social equality, iii). Decision making ability, iv). Financial autonomy and v). Personality development. While gender equality had nineteen (19) distinct questions related to empowerment four (4) child-related concerns and five (5) each for domestic workload, social practices, and marriage & family life issues; social equality had four (4), decision making had five (5), financial autonomy had four (4), and personality development had eight (8) distinct questions related to women empowerment. Altogether 40 questions were used to measure women empowerment in the study region. Each question had a ranking of 1 to 5. The score value of the respondents to consider their perception on women empowerment in rural Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh was - 40 to 94 (low empowerment level), 95 to 147 (moderate empowerment level), and 148 to 200 (high empowerment level). As shown in Table 4.19, the majority of the respondents (63.1%) reported low women empowerment level, while the rest, 36.6 and 0.3 percent, reported medium and high women empowerment level, respectively. As compared to 68.3 percent of the interviewed Pradhans, only 61.4 percent of the Ward Members thought that women empowerment was low. An analysis of the gender differences vis--vis women empowerment shows that male respondents perceived women to be slightly
68

less empowered than their female counterparts. The proportion of male respondents who perceived low women empowerment level was 60 percent, in comparison to 64.5 percent for women respondents. Moreover, in comparison to literate respondents (ranging between 57.8% to 60.9%), a higher proportion of illiterate respondents (69%) reported low women empowerment level in the region.
Table 4.19: Extent of Women Empowerment in Rural Bundelkhand of Uttar Pradesh (%) Low Moderate High Total

By Gender
Women Men 64.5 60.0 61.4 68.3 66.1 60.5 69.0 57.8 56.6 60.9 63.1 35.1 40.0 38.0 31.7 33.9 39.5 31.0 41.2 43.4 39.1 36.6 0.4 0.0 0.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 259 110 171 60 62 76 168 102 53 46 369

By Position
Ward Members Pradhans Defeated & Former Representatives Community Members

By Education
Illiterate Class 1 to7 Class 8 to 10 Class 11 & above

Total 4.3.2

Correlation between Women Empowerment and Demographic Variables

Table 4.20 shows the correlation between demographic variables, age, education, and annual income of the respondents. The correlation value (r) between age and women empowerment is -.023, and it is statistically non-significant.
Table 4.20: Correlation of Women Empowerment with Demographic Variables Age Education Annual Income Women Empowerment Age 1 Education -.062 1 Annual Income .094 .186** 1 Women Empowerment -.023 .165** .107* 1
**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed). *. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).

The correlation value between education of the respondents and women empowerment in rural Bundelkhand of Uttar Pradesh is 0.165, and it is significant at the 0.01 level. In other words, across higher educational level, women empowerment
69

increases. On the other hand, the correlation value between monthly income of the respondents and women empowerment is 0.107 and it is significant at 0.05 level. In other words, when income increases, women empowerment also increases. This is understandable, because when income increases, the status of the respondents, the vast majority of which are women, moves higher on the ladder, and consequently women empowerment also goes up. 4.3.2.1 Association between Social Category and Women Empowerment

Table 4.21 brings out the association between social category and women empowerment. Here the null hypothesis is that there is no association between social category and women empowerment. As the p value is 0.00 which is less than <0.01, the null hypothesis is rejected and it is concluded that there is statistically significant relationship between social category and women empowerment.
Table 4.21: Social Category and Women Empowerment Low Moderate High 137 (75.3%) 45 (24.7%) 0 (0.0%) 37.1% 12.2% 0.0% 79 (52.7%) 70 (46.7%) 1 (0.7%) 21.4% 19.0% 0.3% 17 (45.9%) 20 (54.1%) 0 (0.0%) 4.6% 5.4% 0.0% 233 (63.1%) 135 (36.6%) 1 (0.3%)

SC OBC General Total

N 182 (100%) 49.3% 150 (100%) 40.7% 37 (100%) 10.0% 369 (100%)

2 = 24.293, df = 4 and p = .000

The proportion of Dalit or SC respondents who reported low level of women empowerment in the region was higher (75.3%) than that of OBC (52.7%) and General Category (45.9%) respondents. On the other hand, the proportion of Dalits who reported women empowerment level as moderate was substantially lower (24.7%) than that of OBC (46.7%) and General Category (54.1%) respondents. This means that the sense of disempowerment among Dalit women is more pronounced. While women empowerment was hardly viewed cutting across social categories, almost half of the OBC and General Category respondents somehow felt women to be moderately empowered in the overall rural set-up.

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Box-6 Women Empowerment: The Gulabi Gang Style As one travels deeper into Bundelkhad region of Uttar Pradesh, the much hyped figures of the growing Indian economy become meaningless. Bundelkhand is a highly caste ridden and male dominated society which refuses to educate its women, suppresses them, and marries them off too early. Marginalized, exploited, often victims of violence and abuse, these women bear the brunt of poverty and discrimination. But there is hope too. In this invisible corner of our country, women have taken their cause into their own hands. The Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang) is an Sampat Pal, Leader of Gulabi Gang outfit of more than 40,000 women who fight injustice and corruption at a grassroots level. Sampal Pal is the leader of the Gulabi (Pink) Gang. This feisty crusader for the poor and the downtrodden believes in speaking loudly and carrying a big stick to fight against corrupt official and men who abuse women. Sampat Pal says, salute Gandhiji. He was the father of our nation. But times have changed and my style is different. I am Sampat Pal. I do what I think is right. Gang members seem to relish the chance to hit back. The Gangs vigilante tactics have included attacking police and publicly humiliating a district magistrate. Why do I have to take laws into my hands? I will tell you. Because the Government doesnt obey its own laws. Police and Government officials take bribes. Now people look up to me and dont go to police. Sampat can do what police cant. That is why people respect me, she says. Perhaps it is no surprise that a womens vigilante group has sprung up in Banda district of Uttar Pr adesh, which is one of the poorest and most feudal parts of India. Around 20 percent of the population in Banda is born into the bottom of the caste ladder which dictates where they can work, who they can marry and even, where they can bathe. Above all, its women who bear the brunt of the discrimination. Sampat Pal herself is an illiterate and low caste. She was married of at 12 and had her first child at 15. She says, she was angered by a world in which people are considered untouchable. She says, It makes me angry. How can people hate another human being? They dont even hate dog piss. If a dog pisses near the water where they are worshipping, they still drink the water. But they hate touching a human being. Thats why I had to do this. I have always ar gues and fought since childhood. This former health worker spent years working quietly behind the scene with local women. It was only when they adopted a uniform and threatened violence in 2006 that they were finally taken seriously. The Gulabi Gang has only resorted to violence on a handful of occasions. Sampat says, Most people now see reason. Its quite straightforward. First, we simply approach people with our requests. Please do what we ask. If thats wrong, dont do it. If its right, then do what I ask. But those who have been dishonest and are taking bribes, they are not able to help us. So, when I know that my request has not been considered, I go there once, twice. If they still dont listen, I h it them with lathi. Tackling corruption is just a small part of what Sampat Pal does. Everyday women come to her for help. Sometimes they are victims of domestic violence. Sampat takes up their case with local police. Others are mostly victims of their in-laws. Sampat frequently steps in to sort out such quarrels, acting as the judge, the jury and sometimes also as a property surveyor. Although she has fought with the police and still faces criminal charges for her vigilante attacks, Sampat tries to stay on the good side of the law. She figures it is more effective to shame the authority in doing the right thing than to make headlines by beating them up . But the headlines have also helped. As time passes by, many more women in this backward region of India are joining the ranks of Gulabi Gang, hoping that someday life will be a little better, that there would be food, water, employment and equality. One is not sure if this would ever be achieved in totality or how long it will take. But realized or unrealized, this is a cause worth fighting for!

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4.3.3 Correlation between Women Empowerment and Awareness, Participation, Performance and Interface Variables The correlation value (r) between women empowerment and awareness of Panchayat provisions is 0.113, and it is statistically significant at 0.05 level (Table 4.22). On the other hand, the correlation values of women empowerment with participation in Gram Panchayat, performance in Gram Panchayat and interface with Government variables are 0.153, 0.279 and 0.270, respectively, and these are all statistically significant at the 0.01 level. It is also to be noted that all these four variables have positive correlation with women empowerment. Therefore, it is interpreted that as the awareness of Panchayat provisions of women representatives; their participation and performance in Gram Panchayats; and interaction with Government functionaries & departments increase, women empowerment in the region also increases.
Table 4.22: Correlation of Women Empowerment with Awareness, Participation, Performance and Interface with Government Awareness Participation Performance Interface Women of Panchayat in Gram in Gram with Empowerment Provisions Panchayat Panchayat Govt. 1

Awareness of Panchayat Provisions Participation in .082 1 Gram Panchayat Performance in .402** -.018 Gram Panchayat Interface with .021 -.139** Government Women .113* .153** Empowerment **. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed). *. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).

1 .298** .279** 1 .270** 1

4.3.4 Correlation between Women Empowerment and Empowerment Related Variables Table 4.23 brings out the correlation between women empowerment and empowerment related variables. Five empowerment related variables, namely, gender equality, social equality, decision making, financial autonomy, and personality development have been identified and studied. Women empowerment is the combined variable resulting from the interplay of these variables.
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Box-7 Reasons for low women empowerment level are many: Raja Bhaiya Based in Ataraa, Banda, Raja Bhaiya, 45 year, is a tireless social activist fighting for the rights of the poor and the downtrodden, including women in Bundelkhand. He says, a woman giving birth to baby girls is considered a curse in the region. She is invariably ridiculed and teased by the society as nipurti, i.e., a woman incapable to bear a son, the actual inheritor of the family traditions and property. The overall environment is quite hostile to women and girls. Women and girls are still considered a weaker sex. They are uneducated, insecure, and bereft of dignity and self-esteem. There are restrictions on their movement. They are not free to go to schools and colleges and be educated and independent. As a result, women are still confined within the four walls of their homes. Gender equality is a distant dream. Women and girls have been allocated specialized work and duties. They simply need to cook food, do dishes, wash clothes and be in home. There is hardly any change noticeable in the traditional roles and responsibilities of girls and women. The mental make-up of the people is still traditional and highly patriarchal. The rampant crimes against women and girls make the situation even worse. There are frequent incidences of abduction, rapes and a host of other crimes reported in the region, which further force women to remain within the confines of their home.
Raja Bhaiya, Secretary, Vidya Dham Samiti

Recently, a 17 year girl studying in Class-XI in one of the villages of Atarra (Gramin), Panchayat, was enticed by a group of people and taken away, never to return back and heard. The parents of the girl ran from pillar to post, made repeated visits to the police station and to all those who mattered, but to no avail. The girl still remains untraced since the last six months or so. In another instance, a girl from Naugavan Gram Panchayat, who was going to her field early in the morning carrying breakfast for her father, was forcibly abducted and serially raped by a group of boys in one of the nearby fields. A lot of hue and cry was made; some killings also took place but the police refused to register a case against the accused as they were influential, belonging to the upper caste. On the contrary, the parents of the girl are still languishing in the jail. These kinds of episodes in the region, wherein school going girls become either untraceable on her way to school or abducted and raped, play badly with the minds of the people in sending their daughters to schools and colleges and giving them the space they deserve.

As expected, all the five empowerment related variables have high positive correlation with women empowerment. In all the cases, the value of correction coefficient is more than 0.9, which is very high. This is mainly because these are the very factors which make up women empowerment. Among the five variables, gender equality has the highest correlation with women empowerment (r=0.991), followed by decision making (r=0.954), financial autonomy (r=0.954), social equality (r=0.942), and personality development (r=0.902), and these are all statistically significant at the 0.01 level.

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Table 4.23: Correlation between Women Empowerment and Empowerment Related Variables Gender Social Decision Financial Personality Women Autonomy Equality Equality Making Development Empowerment Gender 1 Equality Social .926** 1 Equality Decision .928** .904** 1 Making Financial .934** .882** .930** Autonomy Personality .871** .801** .816** Development Women .991** .942** .954** Empowerment **. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed)

1 .839** .954** 1 .902** 1

Box-8 Who will take care of home, asks Rajeshwari Pal Rajeshwari Pal is a 45 year old OBC Mahila (Women) Pradhan from Palhari Gram Panchayat. It is in Naraini Block, Banda. She is one of the very few Mahila Pradhans who has at least no hesitation in talking about Panchayat issues. As one arrived at her house, all the onlookers, including her daughter told that Pradhan was away had gone to the Block. Only when told that we actually wanted to meet her mother, the real Pradhan, one was allowed to get in and have conversation with her. Rajeshwari clearly told that when meetings were held in the village, it was her husband who Rajeshwari Pal, Pradhan, attended them. Only when meetings are held at Block or district Palharishe attends them, though always accompanied by her husband, who is a two-time headquarters, former Pradhan from the same Panchayat. He (her husband) understands Panchayat matters better, so what is wrong in taking help? If I attend all meetings, who will take care of home, she asks.

One of the most important reasons of the low women empowerment level in rural Bundelkhand of Uttar Pradesh is the widespread gender inequality practiced in the region or rather lack of gender equality. Despite the increased representation of women in Gram Panchayats, gender equality be it child-related concerns, domestic workload, social practices or marriage and family life issues, still remains a dream (Box-7 & 8). The subordinate position of women to men in Bundelkhand, which manifests itself in the deeply unequal sharing of the burden of adversities between women and men, restricts their financial autonomy and decision making ability as well, which turn further disempowers them.

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Box-9 Registration of land and properties in womens name increasing : Bhola Prasad Mr. Bhola Prasad, a Dalit Lekhpal with over 40 years of experience, operates in Turra Gram Panchayat,. He too blames WRs - their illiteracy and ignorance of Panchayat issues for their predicament. When asked what positive changes has he witnessed in the status of women over the last 40 years or so in the region, he says now a days, more and more land and properties are being registered in the names of women members of the family in place of male members in villages just to avail concession in registration charges, which is good for rural women. It has helped in breaking down the gender barrier, allowing women to enjoy property rights more and more. It has provided an enormous opportunity for women from marginalized communities to bargain for their rights and those Bhola Prasad, Lekhpal, Turra Gram Panchayat of their fellow women.

Unless a concerted effort is made to get rid of traditional values & norms, and address the all pervasive problem of gender inequality, women empowerment through representation and participation of women in Panchayati Raj would remain elusive. The required reforms must recognize that empowerment cannot be viewed in isolation; efforts to realize other enabling rights especially the rights to education and information, alongside the right to equality within the family and in society must be integrated with efforts to ensure womens enjoyment of their right to participation.

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4.4.

BLOCKS TO WOMEN REPRESENTATIVES

There are a variety of reasons as to why women, despite their representation through quotas, do not effectively participate and perform in Gram Panchayats. Therefore, while analyzing women empowerment in Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh, it is important to understand the factors that blocks WRs, either as Ward Members or Pradhans, in effectively participating and performing in Gram Panchayats. It would enable us to observe the broader trend at the Gram Panchayat level.
Box-10 Males dont let women to come to the forefront The main reason for low women empowerment level is the overwhelming dominance of males in the society, who dont let women to come to the forefront. Its always males who are at the forefront in taking all decisions at the village and family levels, says Suresh Kumar, a young grassroots social activist aspiring to be a Pradhan from the Atrarra (Rural) Gram Panchayat someday. Atarra (Rural) Gram Panchayat has a total 30,000 population and 20,000 voters. Nine (9) out of fifteen (15) Ward Members are women here. Currently, it has a woman Pradhan as well. But except once, I have never been able to either see or meet her. She is always confined within home. It is her husband, who himself has been a two-time former Pradhan, who is addressed as Pradhan and does all Panchayat work on her behalf. If you ask, she herself would say Pradhanji is not home or has gone to Banda or somewhere else, as the case may be. Pradhanji (her husband) had never worked for the villagers, nor does he work for the benefit of the villagers now. A Dabang belonging to the OBC community, he has all along been feudal Suresh Kumar, social activist in nature and manages votes in the name of the community. His main aim is to exploit the fellow villagers and make money for him. Therefore, the social welfare schemes earmarked for the poor and the needy have been unable to reach and benefit them. For instance, electricity, a public good, which should be available to all cutting across communities and castes, is not available to Dalits in the village. Only Dabangs have the exclusive electricity connections here. Pradhanji believes, if Dalits start getting all the benefits, including electricity connections, he would lose his overall grip and Dalits wouldnt bow down to Dabangs anymore. By not allowing Dalits the benefits of development, he wants to continue his hegemony over the poor and Dalits. The same is the case with the status of women in the village. Thus despite the presence of women representatives in Panchayats through mandatory womens reservation, women empowerment has not taken place in the region. Their condition remains the same as before.

The study asked a range of questions in Likert scale format on blocks or obstacles faced by women to act as Panchayat representatives. These could be classified into four (4) broad categories i). Socio-economic blocks, ii). Patriarchy-related blocks, iii). Proxy or surrogate related blocks, and iv). Caste-related blocks. While socioeconomic blocks contained five (5) socio-economic-related questions; patriarchy or gender-related blocks had nine (9); proxy or surrogate-related blocks had five (5);

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and caste-related blocks contained four (4) distinct questions. Altogether twentythree (23) questions were used to study blocks to WRs in the region. Data shows that women are perceived to have been facing formidable blocks in terms of all the above cited categories of blocks socio-economic, patriarchy-related, proxy-related and caste-related blocks in effective participation and performance as Panchayat representatives. Whatever be the category, more than 87 percent of the respondents, cutting across gender, position and social category, said these blocks played the serious spoil sport.
Table 4.24: Blocks to Women Representatives (%) Proxy Socio-Economic Patriarchy 87.7 90.8 96.1 87.6 89.7 95.1 87.8 92.0 97.0 87.5 93.3 93.8 87.5 88.4 90.2 87.5 97.7 96.9 87.7 91.5 95.5 87.6 89.3 93.9 87.7 93.5 97.0 Caste 98.1 99.1 97.0 97.5 97.3 97.7 97.9 98.7 97.2
N

Ward Members Dalit Non-Dalit Pradhans Dalit Non-Dalit Total ERs Dalit Non-Dalit

171 87 84 60 28 32 231 115 116

Caste-related blocks emerged as the most formidable block (97.9%), followed by patriarchy-related (95.5%), socio-economic-related (91.5%), and proxy-related blocks (87.7%) to the emergence and advancement of women as Panchayat representatives (Table 4.24). There was not much disparity in the perceptions of Pradhans and Ward Members, and Dalit and Non-Dalit ERs on the gravity of the blocks faced by WRs. 4.4.1 Caste-related Blocks Any study of participation and performance of WRs and women empowerment cannot be separated from caste and class considerations. Different Indian women are subordinated in different ways, with caste and class being key factors which transect gender. Moreover, caste and class are commonly acknowledged to coverage as a result of historical systemic discrimination against lower caste groups and denial of economic and knowledge resources to them (Verma 2002). In other words, in a hierarchical society, where the social structure is itself based on social exclusion arising from caste inequality, caste becomes a key factor in understanding how
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participation and performance of WRs, especially those from the marginalized sections, results in women empowerment. The modern democratic system of governance rests upon a social system in which caste, kinship and community relationships are given high value, and where the exercise of power on behalf, and for the benefit of ones caste group is expected (Kumar, N and Rai, M 2006). Any change to socio-political structures and transformation of governance is resisted, even to the point of violence. This opposition has manifested itself in terms of a sharp increase in violent manifestations of casteism in local communities ever since the local government system was strengthened through the Constitutional Amendments. When the PRIs have been seen by the upper castes as the tool for the lower castes to assert their rights as individuals living in a democratic polity, the latter have become targets of caste based discrimination and violence (Mathew 2002). As Table 4.24 shows, an overwhelming 97.9 percent of the respondents admitted WRs faced caste-related blocks in Gram Panchayats. Only a marginal gap was noticed in the perceptions of Pradhans and Ward Members and those of Dalit and Non-Dalit respondents on this issue, with more Ward Members (98.1%) and Dalit ERs (98.7%) reporting caste-related blocks to WRs than Pradhans (97.5%) and NonDalit ERs (97.2%), respectively. This suggests that the all pervasive nature of casterelated blocks is acknowledged by one and all, including Non-Dalits. Caste-related blocks were analyzed in terms of questions on use of caste offensive language against Dalit WRs, prohibition on sitting on chairs alongside non-Dalit representatives and drinking water or tea from the vessels used by dominant caste representatives. Among these, the first and the fourth blocks, namely, caste offensive language and prohibition on drinking water from the vessel used by dominant caste representatives, with hundred percent acceptance, appear to be the most important blocks or constraints, followed closely by prohibition on sitting chairs alongside nonDalit representatives and physical violence against them (Figure 4.9).

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Figure 4.9: Caste Blocks to Women Representatives

Caste-related blocks throw up a number of challenges before

Prohibition on drinking water from same vessel Caste offensive language

100%

Dalit WRs. The first challenge relates to the legal ambiguity in respect of powers and functions given to the Panchayats as they

100%

Prohibition on same chair sitting

99%

Physical violence

93%

have not been clearly demarcated and defined in the Uttar Pradesh

Panchayat Laws (Amendment) Act, 1994. This ambiguity has created confusion among the ERs about their powers and functions. Second, caste prejudices have become a stumbling block for Dalit women to exert effectively as Panchayat representatives. There have been instances of not allowing Dalit women representatives to discharge their legitimate functions. A number of such cases have come to light from Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh as well.
Box-11 Household matters are most important for ladies: Indra Pal, a Dalit Pradhan-Pati Indra Pal, 33 yrs, is a Dalit Pradhan Pati (husband of the women Pradhan) from Sukaura Gram Panchayat, which is in Kabrai Block of Mahoba district. His wife, 30 yrs old Prabha Pal is a first time Pradhan. She is very much willing to deal with Panchayat issues, learn how Pradhans function and what functions he performs. In fact, this is something which came out very strongly in our first round interaction with her during the initial data collection period. Unfortunately, Indra Pal, her husband, doesnt approve of her interest in Panchayat matters. We could clearly sense that she was very much there in home, but Indra Pal would say, she had gone out for a wedding and would return next day only. In his words, She would love to move around and do things she likes to do. But as a husband, I dont think it proper that mehraaroos (wives) should be allowed to deviate away from household chores. A woman has many constrains in a village set-up. She cannot talk freely and she has to be under veil in front of the elders. Besides, household matters are most important for ladies.

Indra Pal, a Dalit Pradhan-Pati from Sukaura, Mahoba

4.4.2 Patriarchy-related Blocks Among many constraints, the socio-structural parameters of the ideology of patriarchy continue to serve to block and control the thoughts, movements, and live of WRs. Being a heavily patriarchal - male-dominated, male-identified, and male79

centered- society that Bundelkhand region is, womens lives, including those of WRs are rather harsh. They are often denied to participate in the public life and important issues associated with Panchayat politics have been an area of men. Nearly 95.5 percent of the respondent ERs reported patriarchy-related factors as stumbling blocks to WRs. Interestingly; this was reported more by Ward Members (96.1%) than Pradhans (93.8%) and Non-Dalit representatives (97%) than Dalit representatives (93.9%).
Box-12 Gender discrimination still pervasive: Babita Gupta, Asha Bahu Babita Gupta is a 30 year old Asha Bahu from the OBC category, working in Mahotra Gram Panchayat. Asha Bhaus ( are usually employed from the same village, and they are expected to take care of the health of women and children, especially that of pregnant women and their kids, giving them advice, nutrients, supplements, admitting them to nearby Government hospitals for safe delivery and things like that. Frequent interaction with women Panchayat representatives and other village women is part of my job-profile. I do go out and inform them about pregnancy, child care, immunization, sanitation, diseases, and a whole lot of other things. Most of the parents have started to understand the importance of immunizing their kids, so immunization has picked up. But gender discrimination is still pervasive. Ladkan sab bimaar pad jaihan to jyaada chintaa hot hai. Ladkiyan to fhir bhee chal jaat hai (people are still more concerned about the health of a male child, as compared to that of a girl child), she shares. Describing vividly how the preference for son is still predominant in rural Bundelkhand, she says Sometimes even ANMs (Auxiliary Nurse Midwife) help women to abort their fetus, if they fear that the next child would Babita Gupta, Asha Bahu, Mahrotra still be a daughter. Last year, a five month-old pregnant woman died when one of the ANMs in a nearby village tried to abort the five month old-fetus of a woman in home and landed up in jail. The incident was widely reported in news papers as well.

Figure 4.10: Patriarchy Blocks to Women Representatives


99% 98% 97% 95% 94% 92% 92% 70% 55%

Patriarchy-related blocks to WRs were examined by putting out nine (9) questions on need to take permission of husbands or family members to attend meetings,

Accompanied to meetings Dual responsibility Veil in meetings Permission to attend meetings Minor presence of women in meetings Unwilling govt. officials Talking to unrelated persons Dominating MRs Character assassination

talking to unrelated persons, be accompanied by husbands or

family members to meetings, dual

responsibility (child, family and home care), and unequal gender norms and practices at
play, such as, minor presence of women in Panchayat meetings, unwillingness of 80

Government officials to listen to WRs, their character assassination, and dominating presence of MRs. Out of these, the requirement of WRs to be accompanied in meetings by their husbands or family members was reported as the most important block. Nearly 99 percent of the respondents replied in affirmative, when asked if it was indeed a block to WRs in Bundelkhand. In fact, travelling long distances to attend Panchayat meetings is still perceived as something women cannot do unescorted. Hence, it is not unusual to find WRs being accompanied by husbands or other family members, usually male. Dual responsibility also emerged as an equally important patriarchal block, as reported by almost 98 percent of the respondents. This means that WRs do have heavy work load with dual responsibility for child/family/home care and Panchayat work. They have to face frequent questions as to who will make the chapatis? and who will look after the children? Co-operative arrangements within the home, with domestic responsibilities being cheerfully shared by husbands or
family members are not common in the region.
Box-13 Gopi: The story of an abandoned girl child ne of the ugliest forms of discrimination against girl child in the region is to abandon her after birth. Gopi, an 18 year old girl from Atarra, Banda, is a living example of this horrible, yet widespread crime. On a chilly night of September 1996, Bimla (name changed), a lady with three grown up children, two daughters and a son, woke-up from the heart-rending screams of a baby coming from a marshy area not far away from her home. When the screams became louder, she made her son wake-up and asked to see what the matter was. Her son, not wanting to be disturbed at mid-night, opined that it must be the handiwork of some ghost! Otherwise, who could cry in such a manner at such an odd hour, when there was no baby around in the neighbourhood? Not convinced with the response, Bimla decided to venture out and check on her own. As she came out and followed the screams, she quickly Gopi with her foster mother found Gopi - then a newborn baby girl wrapped in a piece of muddy cloth in a sewerage line behind her house and crying for help. The body bore bruised marks all over. There was also mud all around the body. Guided by her motherly instinct, Bimla took the baby girl to her home, gave her the much needed warmth and got her treated against some serious forms of infections and cold she had caught. Despite her modest means, and opposition from family members, Bimla took it upon her to raise Gopi as one of her own daughters. Today, Gopi is a healthy, 18 year old beautiful girl with lots of hope and dreams in her eyes. She is in Class-10 and wants to continue her studies. She is indeed fortunate to have had a mother like Bimla, who has taken such a good care of her. But thousands of other abandoned girl children in Bundelkhand are not so fortunate, who almost invariably either die or end up vagabonds.
O

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The adverse impact of patriarchy-related blocks also gets reflected in lack of information, negotiating skills and self-confidence of WRs as compared to that of MRs. These are the factors which obstruct their active participation and role performance in Gram Panchayats. This enables men, with better education and understanding of the Panchayat process, to dominate Panchayat proceedings, garner support for themselves and direct decision-making to their advantage. Much of this is an outcome of discrimination coupled with womens lack of education, previous Panchayat experience and social capital. Needless to say, education and literacy link to womens access to information and understanding of Panchayat functions and resources. This could be further bolstered by capacity building training programmes, which facilitate womens awareness of their rights and duties in the Panchayats, and equip them with skills to participate in decision making. Social capital that is, associational activity in the public sphere among women serves as another enabling factor in womens active citizenship, access to information and effective participation and role performance. Building social capital is pertinent for rural women in particular, as they generally have less social capital than men due to social norms that restrict their associational activity outside of their family.

Box-14 Munni Devi: a disempowered woman in veil A number of women standing from reserved seats in the region get elected unopposed. Munni Devi, 40 years of age, is one of the many such elected unopposed Ward Members. Belonging to the OBC community from Kachhiyan Purva Gram Panchayat, she has 5 children, all sons. She is totally illiterate, cannot even sign. Throughout the interaction with her, she kept herself wrapped under the veil, and did not utter a word. It was her 12 year old son, who did all the talking. My father attends Panchayat meetings whenever required. Mother stays home and cooks food for us. She remains ill most of the time. How can she be expected to go to the meetings, he asked.
Munni Devi,, Ward Member, Kachhiyan Purva

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4.4.3 Socio-Economic Blocks Of all the respondent ERs interviewed 91.5 percent said WRs faced socio-economic problems in participating and performing in Gram Panchayats. However, this was stated more often in the case of Pradhans than Ward Members and by Non-Dalit representatives than Dalit representatives. Perhaps this indicates towards the fact that Non-Dalit women in a feudal rural set up in Bundelkhand have also formidable blocks to overcome as they are always expected to act and behave in a certain manner, both before and after marriage, in conformity with well-established family and social norms.
Box-15 Vimala: A victim of physical abuse and desertion Because of the widespread poverty and undernourishment in the region, the average life span of people doesnt cross beyond 55 to 60 years. In many cases, people even die after 40 or 45 years of age. This is exactly what happened to Vimalas husband, who died 10 years back. Vimala, currently 40 years of age, was an educated woman with good looks and household skills from Naraini, Atarra. After the sudden death of husband, as her economic condition deteriorated, she started to work with a local organization to sustain her. There she was hounded and accosted by a co-worker who found her loneliness and beauty easy to be exploited. Making tall false claims to marry and take care of her, he virtually trapped her and started living with her in his home. For the next five years or so, Vimala at a public function at Naraini he continued physically exploiting and befooling her unabated. Once she lost her youthful beauty, Vimala was unceremoniously thrown out of his home to fend for herself. With no money, land, and support, and also her physical beauty and self-respect gone, she now has nowhere to go. These days she is barely sustaining her by somehow opening a petty shop on the footpaths of Nariani. Vimala is just one of the many cases where women are treated just as commodities in the region. There are innumerable counts of hapless women trapped, used, raped, blackmailed, thrown and sometimes even murdered in Bundelkhand.

Figure: 4.11: Socio-Economic Blocks to Women Representatives


Caste-group resistance family resistance Inexperience Lack of finance Illiteracy
84% 76% 90% 100% 93%

To study socio-economic blocks, the five questions asked from the respondents were concerning

illiteracy or low education level, lack of financial support,

inexperience of WRs, resistance from family members, and

resistance from other caste groups. It appears that out of these concerns, inexperience emerged as the most important socio-economic block as nearly cent
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percent replied in affirmative in this case, followed by lack of financial resources (93%), resistance from family (90%), and illiteracy (84%) (Figure 4.11). 4.4.4 Proxy-related Blocks A widespread malpractice in Uttar Pradesh, more so in Bundelkhand is that husbands and other male relatives of WRs act as their proxies and interfere in the functioning of Panchayats. The Government of Uttar Pradesh has issued orders intended to help women Pradhans to keep their husbands away from interfering in their work. Husbands, according to this order, will not be allowed to enter their wives offices (except for urgent work or to take part in Panchayat meetings); to accept memoranda from villagers; and to travel in official vehicles. Nevertheless, proxy or surrogate representation is still the order of the day. Husbands of women Pradhans are all too frequently referred to as the Pradhans, as they assume the authority of the Pradhan and discharge the functions of the office.

Box-16 She would only echo what I say: Shivlal Sixty (60) year old Shivlal is the husband of Champa Devi, a Dalit Ward Member from Chaukin Purva. He unabashedly says there is no need to talk to Champa, as she would only echo what I say. Yadi main haan kahtaa hoon to vah haan bolegee aur yadi main naa bolataa hoon to vah naa bolege. Hamase baahar thodee he naa hain ve (if I said yes, she will she yes. If I say no, she would say no. She wouldnt go beyond my wishes). He also admits that fighting election was his decision and not of his wife, and that it is he who performs all the Panchayat related works, his wife Shivlal, husband of Champa Devi, Ward Member, Chaukin Purva only signs, whenever required. On being asked why doesnt he allow his wife, the real Ward Member, to be active on her own, he has a readymade answer My purva (village) hasnt seen much development. Over the years, no Pradhan has done any development work for it. One needs to fight against the misdeeds of the Pradhan, who does nothing. This requires lots of time, courage and thinking. If she starts getting into all this, who will do jhadu-chauka (home care) and who will look after gaay-goru (cattles)? Mind you; he seemed very unpopular among the fellow villagers, as a lot of them blamed him for some of the recent problems that they were encountering.

Nearly 87.7 percent of WRs have been reported facing proxy-related blocks to participation and performance in Gram Panchayats (Table 4.24). The response was, more or less, the same among Pradhans and Ward Members, and Dalit and Non84

Dalit ERs. Needless to say, this malpractice by male family members acting as proxy for WRs is not only in violation of the law, but also in direct hindrance in the path of empowerment of women and defeats the very purpose of providing reservations to women.
Box-17 School Management Committee and absentee Women Panchayat members Panchayat members, especially women members, have an important role to play in the overall development of a school in their area though participation in SMC meetings as active, vigilant members. However, despite the large presence of women Panchayat members, many of which are SMC members as well, they are mostly absent from SMC meetings. A conversation with teachers of an Upper Primary In conversation with Ramlakhann Sen, Kaushalya Devi and Neelam Singh, teachers at Upper School at Fauzdar Ka Purva in Primary School, Fauzdar Ka Purva, Atarra Grameen Atarra Rural Gram Panchayat also revealed that the Pradhan-pati of the Panchayat (i.e., the husband of the actual Mahila Pradhan) was doing nothing to improve things related to the school, despite repeated requests. Panchayat members, including women members, who are part of the SMC or School Management Committee, never participated in any of the SMC meetings. Each time the Pradhan-pati would meet me, he would inquire - what is there for him in school funds? So you can understand where things stand , said Mrs. Kaushalya, the Head Teacher.

Proxy or surrogate representation of WRs takes many forms. It takes place in the form of proxy attendance (family members or husbands of WRs presiding over or attending Panchayat meetings), proxy control (family members or husbands trying to influence WRs, and through them Panchayat decisions), proxy signature (family members or husbands of WRs signing Panchayat documents or papers in official capacity), proxy interaction (family members or husbands meeting citizens and Panchayat or Govt. officials in official capacity), or manipulation (members of dominant group(s) influencing Panchayat decisions). Data suggests that out of these modes, proxy attendance was reported as the most important proxy-related block, followed by proxy interaction, manipulation, proxy signature, and proxy control. Nearly 97 percent respondent ERs replied in affirmative, when asked if it was indeed a block to WRs (Figure 4.12). This is quite contrary to the results of some other
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studies. A six-State study, for instance, shows that WRs are fairly regular in attending meetings, and that the phenomenon of proxy attendance by husbands or other male relatives is actually on the decline (Kaushik 1998). Some of the women Ward Members even did not know that they were a Panchayat representative. The women who at least knew that they were Ward Members very rarely went to the meetings. If they did, then they only did so in order to put their thumb impression or to sign and then came back. Most of the time, they are not even required to put their thumb impression on the required documents. It is taken care of by their husbands or male relatives. 4.4.5 Correlation between Women Empowerment and Blocks
Table 4.25: Correlation between Blocks and Women Empowerment Caste Patriarchy Socio-Eco Proxy Women Blocks Blocks Blocks Blocks Empowerment Caste Blocks 1 Patriarchy Blocks Socio-Eco Blocks Proxy Blocks Women Empowerment .306** .248** .431** -.692** 1 .411** .431** -.632** 1 .375** -.515** 1 -.783** 1

**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed)


Figure 4.12: Proxy Blocks to Women Representatives

Table 4.25 shows the correlation between blocks to WRs caste


97%

Proxy presence

blocks, patriarchy blocks, socioeconomic blocks, proxy blocks, and women empowerment. The correlation value (r) between

Proxy interaction Proxy manipulation Proxy signature 84%

92%

81%

Proxy control

80%

women empowerment and caste blocks is -.692, and it is

statistically significant at the 0.01 level. On the other hand, the correlation values of women empowerment with patriarchy blocks, socio-economic blocks, and proxy blocks are -.632, -.515, and -.783, respectively, and these all are also statistically significant at the 0.01 level. It is also to be noted that these four variables have
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negative correlation with women empowerment. In other words, there is inverse relation between blocks and women empowerment. Therefore, it is interpreted that as blocks to WRs be it caste, patriarchy, socio-economic, or proxy blocks; women empowerment in the region decreases. It also means that low woman empowerment in the region is possibly a reflection of the high blocks to women and their representatives that prevail out there.
Box-18 Jyoti survives to fight The story of Jyoti, 30 yrs, from Banda is one of the many instances of domestic violence and prevalence of conservative practices such as dowry and desire for son, which obstruct women empowerment in the region. Despite spending a hefty amount of money on marriage as dowry by her parents, Jyoti could not satisfy the desires of her husband and in-laws. For about two years, she continuously suffered at their hands in terms of daily taunts, torture and abuse. It was not that her inlaws didnt have money. They had in fact, a lot of mon ey with them. But then greed knows no limits. They started demanding more and more from Jyotis parents. When parents were unable to meet with their growing demands, Jyoti was stopped to call or meet them. She was forcibly confined in her inlaws house. As she was unable to conceive even after two years of her marriage, she was also abused as baanjh (a lady who cant bear any child) and dayan (witch). When atrocities became unbearable, Jyoti decided to end her life by shooting herself with her father-in-laws revolver. Fortunately, despite having three shots at her life, the revolver didnt fire and her life was saved. Knowing the travails of her daughter, Jyotis mother called for the help of a local organisation which stepped in and Jyoti was rescued away from her in-lawss clutches. With the help of the local organisation Jyoti soon started to piece together her miserably broken life. She began studying, did a computer course, and also finished her B.Ed. course. Currently, she is perusing her Ph.D. degree and simultaneously working at the Social Welfare Office, Vikas Bhawan at Banda.

4.4.5.1 Correlation between Overall Blocks and Block-related Variables


Table 4.26: Correlation between Overall Blocks and Block-related Variables Caste Patriarchy Socio-Eco Proxy Overall Blocks Blocks Blocks Blocks Blocks Caste Blocks 1 Patriarchy Blocks .306** 1 Socio-Eco Blocks .248** .411** 1 ** ** Proxy Blocks .431 .431 .375** 1 ** ** ** ** Overall Blocks .601 .794 .658 .792 1
**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

Table 4.26 brings out the correlation between overall blocks to WRs and blockrelated variables. Four block-related variables, namely, caste blocks, patriarchy blocks, socio-economic blocks, and proxy blocks have been identified and studied. Overall blocks to WRs is the combined variable resulting from the interplay of these variables.
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As expected, all the four block-related variables have high positive correlation with blocks to WRs in Gram Panchayats. In all the cases, the value of correction coefficient is more than 0.6, which is high enough. This is mainly because these are the very factors which add up to the overall blocks to WRs. Among the four variables, patriarchy blocks has the highest correlation with overall blocks (r=0.794), followed by proxy blocks (r=0.792), socio-economic blocks (r=0.658) and caste blocks (r=0.601), and these are all statistically significant at the 0.01 level. The emergence of patriarchy-related factors as the most important blocks or constraint to WRs and the overall cause of women empowerment in the context of low economic development is not surprising. Patriarchy, including gender inequality is an endemic problem in Bundelkhand and calls for institutional overhauling at all levels to deal with. These are directly affecting womens abilities to generate gender responsive development outcomes or to introduce changes into the power structures in the Panchayats. The orientation of Panchayat development activities towards male priorities and lack of capacity-building training programmes for WRs also make this more difficult. The process of political inclusion has opened up new spaces for discrimination and subordination of women which remain inadequately addressed. It is only by addressing the patriarchy and gender issues that women can be enabled to utilise the benefits of representation and participation in Gram Panchayats to generate greater development and social change impact. Serious efforts are required to change the traditional gender patterns in most parts of India, more so in Bundelkhand, with lower sex-ratio of born girls, patrilocal marriages, patrilineal inheritance, and denial of access to the public sphere to women. We must understand that it would be difficult for WRs, elected or otherwise, to be able to effectively participate and perform in Gram Panchayats, otherwise. The phenomenon of proxy or surrogate representation is again an all-pervasive problem in Bundelkhand, as also in the rest of Uttar Pradesh. Women are nominated by their husbands, fathers and father-in law to take advantage of the quota, which
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made it difficult for the man to contest the election himself. In some cases, election materials banners, posters, etc. are also made in the name of the man rather than the woman who is the official candidate. The dynamics of proxy or surrogate politics plays out like this: The first helping hand to women representatives in Panchayat elections is almost always their family members or husbands. They are at the same time a stumbling block to them, for if women are uneducated or less educated, they make use of them to earn money. The exception is only when the women have the capacity to act independently. The relatives of WRs are the next stumbling block to them. The third group is the dominant castes. If Dalit WRs are able to dance to their tunes, they use them indirectly for their own benefit and needs. If they act freely and independently, they will directly confront and go against them.

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4.5.

ROLE

OF

CAPACITY

BUILDING

TRAINING

AND

ENABLING

STRUCTURES

Capacity building training programmes and value addition by enabling structures such as membership of and participation in parallel village bodies (Village Education Committee, Village Health Committee, Village Water and Sanitation Committee, etc.) and community based organizations like Self Help Groups, Mahila Mandals, Joint Management Committee, etc. have all along been considered helpful in improving the performance of EWRs in office and their ability to contribute meaningfully to village development flow with better knowledge of laws and rules and improved social capital. Therefore, an attempt has been made in this chapter to evaluate the role of capacity building training and enabling structures on empowerment of women and EWRs. It brings forth answers to questions like: do WRs in Bundelkhand receive training, what are they being trained on, what is the extent of their participation in such trainings, how do they perceive usefulness of trainings, and do they need more training to hone up their skills and knowledge base? It also analyses the functioning of parallel village bodies and CBOs as

enabling structures for WRs. 4.5.1 Capacity Building Training

The preceding chapters have analysed how women, despite their representation through quotas, are finding it difficult to effectively participate and perform in Gram Panchayats. Women still face a number of blocks to their engagement in political spaces such as inadequate education, lack of financial independence, burden of productive and reproductive roles and opposition stemming from entrenched patriarchal views. Training, therefore, has emerged as a critical concern to prepare women to discharge multiple roles, facilitating their effective participation and role performance in Panchayats, and enabling them to link local priorities to the planning process.
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4.5.1.1

Training Received
Table 4.27: Training Received by Women Representatives (%)
No Don't know Yes N

Nearly half (49.4%) of the WRs interviewed said they had

received training or orientation after being elected. Ward

Members are, on the whole, more likely to have undergone training (51.2%) than Pradhans (43.6%). On the other hand, the proportion

Ward Members Dalit Non-Dalit Pradhans Dalit Non-Dalit Total WRs Dalit Non-Dalit

32.6 18.5 46.9 35.9 38.9 33.3 33.3 22.9 43.5

16.3 13.8 18.8 20.5 16.7 23.8 17.3 14.5 20.0

51.2 129 67.7 65 34.4 64 43.6 39 44.4 18 42.9 21 49.4 168 62.7 83 36.5 85

of Dalit WRs received training was higher (62.7%) than that of Non-Dalit WRs (36.5%). Perhaps this indicates that Dalit WRs, with marked socio-economic deprivation, are more inclined to receive training than Non-Dalit counterparts. Of those who received training, 92.8 percent viewed that training was useful in one way or the other. This was viewed more often in the case of Ward Members than Pradhans and more by Dalit than Non-Dalit WRs. All those who said they did not receive training were further asked the reason for their not receiving any training or orientation. Nearly 73.2 percent of such respondent WRs gave training not held as the main reason for their non-attendance. Among Ward Members, 11.9 percent, and among women Pradhans, 14.3 percent, cited their not called for training as the other important reason. Only a small proportion of WRs cited their personal preoccupations and priorities as the reason for not attending the training programme (Table 4.28).
Table 4.28: Reasons for Training Not Received (%)
Training not held Not called for training Busy with other priorities Trainings dont prove useful Was not allowed to attend

Ward Members Dalit Non-Dalit Pradhans Dalit Non-Dalit Total WRs Dalit Non-Dalit

76.2 75.0 76.7 64.3 42.9 85.7 73.2 63.2 78.4

11.9 25.0 6.7 14.3 28.6 0.0 12.5 26.3 5.4

4.8 0.0 6.7 21.4 28.6 14.3 8.9 10.5 8.1

2.4 0.0 3.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.8% 0.0% 2.7%

4.8 0.0 6.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 3.6 0.0 5.4

42 12 30 14 7 7 56 19 37
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4.5.1.2

Content of Training Received

The study also attempted to analyse the perception of WRs on the content of training received. These questions were asked only to those who had said they received some form of training.
Table 4.29: Content of Training Received (%)
Rules & regulations of Panchayat Roles & responsibilities of Panchayat representatives Preparation of village action plans Preparation of Panchayat budget Information on Govt. schemes/ programmes Other

Ward Members Dalit Non-Dalit Pradhans Dalit Non-Dalit Total WRs Dalit Non-Dalit

50.0 47.7 54.5 76.5 62.5 88.9 55.4 50.0 64.5

40.9 38.6 45.5 58.8 62.5 55.6 44.6 42.3 48.4

24.2 25.0 22.7 52.9 37.5 66.7 30.1 26.9 35.5

18.2 36.4 24.2 25.0 44.4 35.3 19.2 38.7 26.5

33.3 31.8 36.4 41.2 25.0 55.6 34.9 30.8 41.9

12.1 11.4 13.6 23.5 12.5 33.3 14.5 11.5 19.4

66 44 22 17 8 9 83 52 31

Training on rules and regulations of Panchayat as also the responsibilities of ERs are the most fundamental requirements that WRs need to assert themselves as efficient elected Panchayat representatives. The proportion of Pradhans reported to have learnt about these from the training programmes was higher (76.5% and 58.8%) than Ward Members (50% and 40.9%). Perhaps this is indicative of the fact that Pradhans are more likely to attend training programmes than Ward Members. Training on preparation of village action plans and Panchayat budget are also directly related to the functioning of ERs. But such training was available to a very small proportion (19.2 30.1%) of WRs who received any form of training. However, training related to information on Government schemes/ programmes was attended by 34.9 percent of WRs, with noticeable difference by social category (Table 4.29). 4.5.1.3 Need for Training/ Further Training

In view of the low awareness level and dissatisfactory participation & performance of WRs, all elected respondents, whether they received training or not, were also asked if there was need for training or further training to WRs or not. To this, an overwhelming majority (212 out of 231 respondents, i.e., 91.8%) replied in

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affirmative. This only shows the importance of capacity building of the current lot of WRs to enable them for effective participation and performance in Gram Panchayats. 4.5.1.4 Agenda for Training/ Further Training

More than four-fifths of the respondent Pradhans feel the need for training in the rules and regulations pertaining to Panchayati Raj (89.1%) and roles & responsibilities of Panchayat representatives (81.8%). This proportion is slightly higher in the case of Dalit members (Table 4.30). Preparation of village action plans and Panchayat budget, two other important functions of ERs, were also recommended by 63.6 and 52.7 percent of the Pradhans as agenda for training/ further training to WRs.
Table 4.30: Agenda for Training/ Further Training (%)
Rules & regulations of Panchayat Roles & responsibilities of Panchayat representatives Preparation of village action plans Preparation of Panchayat budget Information on Govt. schemes/ programmes

Ward Members

Dalit Non-Dalit Pradhans Dalit Non-Dalit Total ERs Dalit Non-Dalit

91.1 88.8 93.5 89.1 96.3 82.1 90.6 90.7 90.5

83.4 82.5 84.4 81.8 85.2 78.6 83.0 83.2 82.9

66.9 67.5 66.2 63.6 70.4 57.1 66.0 68.2 63.8

59.9 63.8 55.8 52.7 59.3 46.4 58.0 62.6 53.3

84.7 83.8 85.7 83.6 88.9 78.6 84.4 85.0 83.8

157 80 77 55 27 28 212 107 105

Getting elected as Pradhans or a Ward Member brings with it the responsibility for taking significant initiatives for ensuring the development of the village community. A supportive mechanism in the form of capacity building training programmes is therefore a must for Panchayat representatives, especially uneducated WRs within a feudal and rural patriarchal set up. It would also enable them to remain committed to their cause over a longer period of time. Unfortunately, however, as the above analysis shows, WRs in Bundelkhand have not yet been provided adequate training and orientation in handling their roles and responsibilities. The high proportion of WRs not to have received any sort of training after being elected is a testimony to this fact.

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4.5.2

Parallel Village Bodies and Community Based Organisations

PRIs are only one among the various bodies existing at the local level. The other forms of institutional set ups are Parallel Village Bodies (PVBs) and Community Based Organisations (CBOs). PVBs such as the Village Education Committee (VEC), Village Health Committees (VHC), Village Water and Sanitation Committees (VWSC) and Women Empowerment Committee (WEC) and CBOs like Self Help Groups, Mahila Mandals, etc could also have positive implications on the functioning of WRs. The study therefore sought to examine the membership and participation of WRs in these institutions. 4.5.2.1 Membership of and Participation in Parallel Village Bodies

There are mandatory provisions for involvement of Panchayat members, especially the Pradhan and the woman, in parallel village bodies like VEC, VHC, VWSC and WEC. In Uttar Pradesh also, these bodies have to have a Panchayat member, preferably a woman. No wonder, compared to Ward Members (26.2%) Pradhans reported more involvement of WRs in parallel bodies (45.8%). However, Dalit WRs reported lesser involvement than their Non-Dalit counterparts. Perhaps this has to do more with the greater ignorance and non-familiarity of Ward Members, and Dalit ERs about the existence of parallel village bodies.
Table 4.31: Membership in Various Parallel Bodies (%) VEC VHC VWSC WEC N Ward Members 43.4 28.7 16.3 16.3 129 Dalit 30.8 26.2 10.8 12.3 65 Non-Dalit 56.3 31.3 21.9 20.3 64 Pradhans 64.1 43.6 38.5 35.9 39 Dalit 44.4 44.4 27.8 33.3 18 Non-Dalit 81.0 42.9 47.6 38.1 21 Total WRs 48.2 32.1 21.4 20.8 168 Dalit 33.7 30.1 14.5 16.9 83 Non-Dalit 62.4 34.1 28.2 24.7 85

VEC was reported as the most common parallel body in the region. About 64.1 percent of Pradhans and 43.4 percent of Ward

Members said WRs were its members. However, this

was said more often by

Non-Dalit WRs than Dalit WRs. The VHC and VWSC were the next two most common parallel bodies (Table 4.31).
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The compulsory formation of VEC under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and the provision of having at least one Panchayat member in these, seem to have been instrumental in bringing a substantial number of WRs into the VECs. Similarly, the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) and Total Sanitation Campaigns (TSC) envisage the formation of committees with the involvement of women Panchayat representatives. This perhaps explains their robust membership of such bodies. 4.5.2.2 Association with Community Based Organisations

The respondents were asked about the association or membership of WRs in CBOs in their villages. The instances of CBOs are: Self Help Groups (SHG), Womens Groups or Mahila Mandals, Joint Forest Management Committees, Cooperative Societies, etc. Of the total respondents who reported the association of WRs in

CBOs, 31 percent were Ward Members, 35.9 percent Pradhans. Compared to NonDalit WRs, the proportion was again higher among Dalit WRs.
Table 4.32: Association with CBOs (%)
SHG Ward Members Mahila Mandal JMC Cooperative Society N

Table 4.32 shows that there were instances of WRs

Dalit Non-Dalit Pradhans Dalit Non-Dalit Total WRs Dalit Non-Dalit

55.0 63.1 46.9 53.8 44.4 61.9 54.8 59.0 50.6

32.6 38.5 26.6 41.0 38.9 42.9 34.5 38.6 30.6

10.1 16.9 3.1 17.9 16.7 19.0 11.9 16.9 7.1

26.4 129 29.2 65 23.4 64 30.8 39 27.8 18 33.3 21 27.4 168 28.9 83 25.9 85

association with one or more types of CBOs, with SHGs emerging popular as the most them,

among

followed by Mahila Mandals and Cooperative Societies.

Respondents were asked about the type of CBOs WRs were involved with, before being elected. About 55 percent of Ward Members and 53.8 percent of Pradhans before being elected were associated with SHGs. This underlines the role of CBOs as enabling institutions to the functioning of WRs in Gram Panchayats in Bundelkhand as well.

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Chapter-5 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS


The study analysed various issues related to women empowerment through representation of women in PRIs in the context of low economic development. It investigated socio-economic characteristics of WRs; looked into their participation, awareness and role performance in Gram Panchayats; measured the nature and extent of women empowerment; and investigated blocks to WRs, role of capacity building trainings, and interaction of WRs with the parallel village bodies and community based organizations as enabling structures. The study examined the correlation of women empowerment with awareness, participation and performance (of WRs) variables; association of social category with women empowerment; and correlation between women empowerment and block variables in Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh. 5.1. CONCLUSIONS

Socio-Economic Profile of WRs Data on age showed that the majority of the WRs were in the reproductive age group between 21-40 years. Ward Members were generally younger than Pradhans. However, Dalit WRs tended to be older than their OBC and General Category counterparts.

There was widespread illiteracy (52.7%) among the WRs in the region. As expected, illiteracy among the Ward Members was higher than among the Pradhans. Dalit WRs had substantially lower levels of educational attainment than the Non-Dalit WRs.

WRs spent their time primarily in performing household works (41.4%), followed by farming (27.7) and labour works (27.7%). The time spent on Panchayat activities was negligible. A sizable proportion of Dalit WRs, however reported their primary occupation as labour works (38.9%), followed by farming activities (30.1%) and household works (27.4).
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The economic status of more than half of the WRs was above the poverty line (APL) as per the Village List. The proportion of APL individuals was higher among Pradhans than Ward Members, and among Non-Dalit WRs than Dalit WRs, neither of which is a surprising finding.

Participation, Awareness and Role Performance of WRs Participation, awareness and role performance of WRs in Gram Panchayats assessed across various dimensions have so far not been impressive and effective in Uttar Pradesh region of Bundelkhand. Nevertheless, nearly one third (33%) WRs were reported to be participating in Gram Sabha meetings in one way or the other. This was stated more often in the case of Pradhans than Ward Members and by Non-Dalit representatives than Dalit representatives. Compared to low attendance, non-punctuality, and lack of eloquence, poor prior preparedness and non-exercise of voting rights by WRs emerged as main reasons for moderate participation level of WRs. Thus participation of WRs in Gram Sabha appeared to be more symbolic and less substantive in nature. Participation of WRs in the development agenda of Panchayats was rather low, reflecting the multiple disabilities of gender, caste and poverty in the region, and perhaps much of India. Only 8.5 percent were reported as active participants in the development agenda of Panchayats. Basic awareness of WRs about Panchayat provisions assessed in terms of five basic awareness-related questions is quite low and so is their knowledge of key Panchayat provisions, also assessed in terms of assessed in terms of five (5) key awareness-related information. Only 24.2 percent and 7 percent of the WRs were reported aware of basic Panchayat provisions and having knowledge of key Panchayat provisions, respectively. Nearly half (50%) of the WRs was reported to have discussed development issues in Panchayat meetings upon participation. The main development issues discussed included drinking water supply/repair & maintenance of handpumps, construction/ repair of drainage, roads and school buildings; welfare schemes

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such as MNREGA, old age pension, PDS; and social issues like domestic violence, closure of liquor shops, etc. Except for their role in implementation of Panchayati Raj development agenda (make development plans, prepare budget proposals, reviewing existing schemes and identify beneficiaries) which remain low, the role performance of WRs in community development programmes and interface with the Government turned out to be reasonably good. Nearly a quarter (25%) of the WRs reported to have played a good role in implementing community development programmes (undertaking health-related campaigns, waging drive against diseases, implementing family planning campaigns, and improving the enrolment of girls in schools) in their region, which is quite an impressive proportion, considering their low participation level in Panchayat activities. Interaction of WRs with Government functionaries, such as, ANMs, Anganwadi Workers, block officials, police and the local leaders (MLA, MP, etc), was fairly good (49 percent for Ward Members, and 46.7 percent for Pradhans). Significantly, both at the Pradhan and Ward Member level, Dalit WRs reported a higher interaction than their Non-Dalit counterparts. A higher proportion of Dalit WRs approaching Govt. functionaries indicates they are gradually establishing networks to increase their information on Panchayat schemes and administration, obtain advice and help on issues, and negotiate for schemes and funds to implement development schemes for their constituencies. Nature and Extent of Women Empowerment Despite the reservation of women in Panchayati Raj over the years, the majority of the respondents (63.1%) reported low women empowerment level, while the rest, 36.6 and 0.3 percent, reported medium and high women empowerment level, respectively. The proportion of male respondents who perceived low women empowerment level was 60 percent, in comparison to 64.5 percent for women respondents.
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There was high association between social category and women empowerment in the region. The proportion of Dalit respondents (75%) reporting low level of women empowerment was higher than that of OBC (53%) and General Category respondents (46%). On the other hand, the proportion of Dalits who reported women empowerment level as moderate was substantially lower than that of their OBC and General Category counterparts. This means that the sense of disempowerment among Dalit women is more pronounced.

Blocks to Women Representatives


Of all the blocks, caste-related blocks was reported as the most constricting factors (97.9%) to WRs and the cause of women empowerment in the region, closely followed by patriarchy (95.5%), socio-economic (91.5%) and proxy blocks (87.7%).

Statistics however showed that among

the four block variables, proxy blocks had the highest correlation with women empowerment (r=-0.783), followed by caste blocks (r=-0.692) and patriarchy blocks (r=-0.632). Socio-economic blocks had the lowest correlation (r=-0.515), and these were all statistically significant at the 0.01 level. Caste prejudices have become a stumbling block for Dalit women to emerge effectively as Panchayat representatives. Caste offensive language, prohibition on drinking water from the same vessel, prohibition on sitting of the same chair and physical violence all emerged as important constituents of such prejudices against Dalit WRs. There were also instances of not allowing Dalit WRs to discharge their legitimate functions. The socio-structural parameters of the ideology of patriarchy also continue to serve to block and control the thoughts, movements, and live of WRs. Interestingly; this was reported more by Ward Members (96.1%) than Pradhans (93.8%) and Non-Dalit representatives (97%) than Dalit representatives (93.9%). The requirement of WRs to be accompanied in meetings by their husbands or family members was reported as the most important patriarchy-related block, followed by the dual responsibility for child/family/home care and Panchayat work.
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Role of Capacity Building Training and Enabling Structures Nearly half (49.4%) of the WRs interviewed said they had received training or orientation after being elected. Ward Members were, on the whole, more likely to have undergone training (51.2%) than Pradhans (43.6%). On the other hand, the proportion of Dalit WRs receiving training was higher (62.7%) than that of NonDalit WRs (36.5%). Perhaps this indicates that Dalit WRs are more inclined to receive training than their Non-Dalit counterparts. The main reason for not receiving any training or orientation was simple training not held (73.2%), followed by not called for training (12.5%). Training in Rules and Regulations of Panchayats and Roles and

Responsibilities are very critical for better performance, but these were attended only by 55.4 percent of and 44.6 percent of the WRs, respectively. Irrespective of position and social category, more than four-fifths apparently felt the need for further training on the Rules and Regulations of Panchayats. The findings also indicate that WERs functioned more or less within an enabling environment, both at the level of the parallel village bodies and community based organizations. Compared to Ward Members, Pradhans reported more involvement of WRs in parallel bodies and CBOs. However, compared to Dalit WRs, Non-Dalit WRs reported lesser involvement with CBOs. Perhaps this has to do more with the greater ignorance and non-familiarity of Ward Members, and Dalit ERs about the existence of parallel village bodies. 5.2. RECOMMENDATIONS Sustained systematic change requires multiple government and non-government actors, both at the state and national levels working together to influence formal and non-formal local institutions of power and to strengthen womens sense of power with, power to and power within. Creative ways must be explored to, with women as well as men, to capitalize on the success stories of womens

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leadership in PRIs, and cultivate their growth. Efforts must lead to womens access to and control over key resources and benefits in society as well as emerging societal culture of human rights that itself demands accountable governance and equality for all. The level of educational attainment plays an important role in determining the awareness level and the subsequent role performance of EWRs. Those educated showed a significant positive correlation with the overall awareness around Panchchayat rules and regulations. Therefore, efforts are required to educate or literate EWRs by reviving adult education centres and making them knowledgeable through information sharing process in such a way that they could perform their duties confidently and efficiently. In view of the low educational attainment level and limited exposure of EWRs to public affairs, there is need to enhance training facilities and capacity building programmes to enable them to discharge their duties efficiently. A separate and exclusive training programme based on the principle of continuous and comprehensive training for WRs should be devised. The Government needs to impress upon the State Government to make it compulsory for EWRs to attend all such training programmes. It is also desired that the infrastructure for training programmes is considerably improved and resource centres for capacity building be established at every district, block and if required for each cluster of village Panchayats. Exchange programmes and study tours must also form an important component of capacity building. In addition to regular Panchayat trainings for all Panchayat trainings, special trainings need to be devised and conducted for WRs, especially Dalit WRs, as closely as possible to the start of their term of office, in order to specifically capacitate them on rules & regulations of Panchayats, roles & responsibilities of Panchayat representatives, government schemes and procedures involved to access them, management and local development planning, budget planning, and how to overcome blocks to their participation and role performance. All trainings should include a gender and caste perspective, as well as legal sanctions which apply to those who block womens participation in PRIs. These
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trainings should further specifically focus on promoting a culture of inclusive development, accountability and transparency in the Panchayat administration. Trainings should be conducted in close proximity to womens residences so as to facilitate their participation. Civil society groups need to complement government training programmes with regular, periodic need-based trainings, which equip separately WERs and those aspiring to become ERs with technical knowledge of the Panchayat administration, knowledge of their roles and responsibilities, etc. Specific training methods should also be created to teach illiterate women, especially Dalit women. Specific trainings for women could be initiated on gender and caste social norms and practices, and their legal rights. Efforts are also desired to strengthen child and adult literacy programmes for women with adequate follow up, including establishing village literacy committees. Addressing the female burden of lack of household support, economic insecurity, inequality in family life, burden of dual responsibility between Panchayats and households through greater education and economic programmes targeting women, as well as lobbying the government to implement or directly providing support mechanism such as child care facilities are also important for civil society groups, and so is to initiate gender sensitization programmes specifically aimed at men, to encourage them to extend greater freedom to women in their families and to support WERs both within and outside the Panchayats. All officials concerned with Panchayati Raj, including election officers, rural extension officers and particularly lower government officers (Panchayat Secretary, Lekhpal, etc.) dealing with the Panchayats should also be capacitated to understand and respond to issues of caste and gender discrimination, encourage greater information sharing and less bureaucratic control over Panchayat development schemes, so that these officials are able to better monitor and support WERs in the Panchayats to ensure others do not coerce them into relinquishing their powers. The answer to proxy participation of male members related to EWRs in Panchayat meetings perhaps lies in changing the mindsets, particularly of men
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through counseling and promoting the confidence of women in negotiating the space and independence they need in their official tasks. At the same time, the officials of the Panchayats may be made responsible for preventing proxy participation and strict action may be initiated against them for violations in this regard. Reservation of seats alone cannot ensure the effective participation of women in PRIs and their empowerment. To help them overcome the caste-patriarchysocioeconomic-proxy-related blocks, including illiteracy, inexperience, dual responsibilities, lack of access and control over income and other resources, restrictions to public spaces, etc, and carry the concept of empowerment forward, the Government needs to make necessary amendments in the law to provide for special quorum for women in the Panchayat meetings, especially Gram Sabhas. Such acts of positive discrimination will help women to change their perceptions about themselves and to gain a sense of empowerment. A major constraint of women from Dalit/ poor families in devoting time to Panchayat activities is lack of time as they have to work for long hours as wage earners. It may not be fair to expect them to devote time to the Panchayat activities sacrificing their income earning opportunities. To encourage active participation of women in Panchayat activities, WRs needs be given special additional honorarium equal to minimum daily wages. There should be regular dialogue between womens movements, womens groups such as SHGs and Mahila Mandals, and WERs, to foster understanding and support for WERs to independently function in the Panchayats. This could greater formal linkages between Panchayat institutions and SHGs, in order to facilitate womens greater role in the Panchayat administration.

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