Empowering Elected Women Representatives in Local Government

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The Hunger Project (THP) has empowered elected women representatives (EWRs) in local government, specifically in village councils through a comprehensive 5-year program aligned to the election cycle and implemented by existing community-based organisations. More than 120,000 EWRs have been trained to date.

Gender Equality , Ensure women’s participation, equal leadership opportunities

India is a prominent global voice that has made significant progress on human development over the past 60 years, but the benefits of a growing economy are not shared equally: the country is still home to one-third of the world’s poor. Between 2005 and 2010, 53 million people were lifted out of poverty. But in 2010, 69 percent still lived on less than US $2 a day, and 33 percent on less than US $1.25 a day. With a national goal of increased shared prosperity (increasing absolute number of people who are socially included, reasonably secure and not poor), means more than lifting people out of poverty. Gender inequality is pervasive, and the ratio of girl children to boy children is decreasing. Educational attainment is low, and India holds one-third of the world’s illiterate. India must overcome enormous structural challenges to sustain a population out of poverty.

In 1992, the 73rd Amendment to the Indian Constitution mandated that one-third of all seats in panchayats (village councils) be reserved for women, bringing more than one million women into elected office.

In seizing the opportunity of the 73rd amendment, The Hunger Project builds leadership skills among women who have been systematically denied information, freedom of motion and voice in decision making. The overall goal in this leadership development is for women in the community to lead, own and shape development processes.

The project has proven to be sustainable through low cost, approximately $200 per EWR per year, with each EWR directly improving the lives of 300 citizens. In addition, block and state-level alliances have proven to be sustainable, changing leadership with each election cycle.

THP's comprehensive 5-year program:

* Pre-election, awareness campaigns;

* Transformation training (3-day residential) of newly-elected women, providing them with strong rights awareness, clarity on their constitutional role and responsibility, and linkages to key resource people in higher levels of government;

* Formation of local-level alliances for mutual empowerment;

* On-demand skills training in finance, communication;

* Mobilisation of women’s forums at the village level.

Lastly, through The Hunger Project (THP-India), methodologies for women’s leadership development have been transferred to THP-Bangladesh.

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