Women who are members of Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand/Black Ticket Films
Gender & Politics

Women Leaders Breathing Life Into Van Panchayats in Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand is home to the fierce ‘Chipko Movement.’ Led by the bold and spirited women in the 1960s, the movement was one of the many significant attempts to bring to light the relationship between women’s rights and environmental justice in its fight against large scale deforestation.In recent times, we see inspired and motivated elected women representatives in Gram Panchayats ( India’s elected village councils) carrying forward the legacy of the Chipko movement as they rally around to strengthen the unique Uttarakhandi institution of Van Panchayats (forest councils).In early 2017, during the course of several meetings organized by The Hunger Project,

Mamta, the former Sarpanch of Jayadara Panchayat in Sirohi district of Rajasthan. Photo Credit: Surbhi Mahajan
Gender & Politics

When Violence Is the Cost Of Doing Politics

When Mamta (26), was elected to Jayadara  Gram Panchayat ( lowest tier in India’s 3 tier local governance system)  in Sirohi district of Rajasthan in 2015, the upper caste former male Sarpanch (village council head) was angry. He found it hard to digest that an Adivasi woman from the Bhil tribe was not just entering the panchayat office but occupying the chair of  the sarpanch.What followed were a series of open threats, intimidation, harassment and abuse.The former Sarpanch threatened her with rape, something he had done with other women and girls in the village. On a monitoring visit to the

Surta Bairwa, President, Srirampura Village Council, Tonk District, Rajasthan. Photo Courtesy: Amrita Haldipur
Gender & Politics

Dalit And Adivasi Women Leaders Secure Community Rights

Surta Bairwa (33), the former Dalit Sarpanch of  Srirampura Panchayat in Rajasthan’s Tonk district had enough of the centuries old dominance of the upper caste Gurjars. The Gurjar community had encroached upon hand pumps and water tanks meant for common use of the village leaving the Dalit Valmiki community without access to water.“I took it upon myself to break this pattern and work to protect and promote the concerns and issues of the marginalised communities. I also want to ensure that women’s needs are not neglected any longer”, Surta said.At first, Surta and the other ward members approached the powerful