India’s Panchayati Raj system highlights strides made in women’s leadership: India @UN

India’s Representative to the UN Ruchira Kamboj, speaking on Panchayati Raj and the empowerment of women, May 4, 2024. PHOTO: Videograb from Doordharshan

United Nations :India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ruchira Kamboj, lauded India’s Panchayati Raj system, for bringing progress to the status of women in that country.

“India prides itself on a unique system of rural governance known as the Panchayati Raj–an emblem of decentralized power at the grassroots level,” she said speaking on May 4, 2024, at India’s #CPD57 side event entitled, “Localizing the SDGs: Women in Local Governance in India Leads the Way.”

Kamboj emphasized the system’s transformative impact saying,”The Panchayati Raj is a sterling example of direct democracy that facilitates active participation from all residents of a Panchayat through the Gram Sabha.”

Its decentralized power structure sets it apart from conventional municipal governance models found elsewhere in the world, making it a model for fostering inclusive decision-making processes, she noted.

“A significant milestone was achieved with the constitutional amendment in 1992, which mandated that at least one third of all elected roles in local governance be reserved for women,” Kamboj said, adding that women’s representation had been increased to 50 per cent in 21 states within India.

“Today, of the over 3.1 million elected representatives, more than 1.4 million are women,” she said.

Women’s representation in the Pandhayati Raj system is linked to localization of sustainable development goals, with a primary focus on empowering women, leading to the integration of gender considerations into development planning.

Women leaders in Panchayati Raj institutions have been instrumental in driving positive change at the grassroots level, leveraging their unique perspectives and experiences to address pressing social and economic challenges, Kamboj contended.

Acknowledging the challenges faced by women in leadership, Kamboj stressed the need for supportive legal frameworks, robust capacity building initiatives, and collaborative partnerships to advance gender equality. “India’s experience provides invaluable insights and lessons on advancing and sustaining women’s leadership,” she remarked.

“As we move forward, let us renew our dedication to fostering women’s leadership in local governance, recognizing its transformative power in achieving gender equality and the sustainable development goals,” Kamboj concluded.



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