Taking their place as representatives in PRIs, women in villages take the first step to strengthening rural populations by fighting for their rights and working towards development, self-sufficiency and equality
A s the oldest system of local governance in the nation, Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) have held a traditional stronghold in the village life of India. Chiefly regarded as the space for conflict resolution and maintenance of order at the village level, these institutions were the receptacles of the Gandhian dream of Swaraj, or selfgovernance. As India embraced modernity in its institutions, PRIs were moulded to fit an agenda that went beyond mere arbitration and guidance.
PRIs have undergone changes in terms of the process of choosing members, their duties and roles. In the current socio-political context, the chief objective of democratic states is development. Institutions of local governance, therefore, become crucial for addressing issues of the rural population, especially as decentralization becomes a buzzword in search of good governance.
In Jharkhand, Panchayati Raj elections were held for the first time in 2011 although the state was formed in 2000. There was a surge in political participation by women and 56 per cent of the seats were won by women. The number of victorious women exceeded the 50 per cent that is reserved for them—a sign of encouragement for those working to better their lives.