This Village In Maharashtra Has Elected An All-Woman Panchayat. It’s Now Cleaner, Inclusive And Menstruation Is No Longer Taboo
There used to be a time when patriarchy controlled everything. A woman in-charge was, well, unheard of. As times change though, it’s becoming increasingly clear just how much work needs to be done to get women are completely at par with men. A lot of people think that this is an unrealistic goal. That’s not true, it’s just a very difficult one. However, as I said, times are changing and it seems like good things are on the horizon. Having said that, let’s take a look at this village in Maharashtra’s Latur that is being helmed by an all-women Panchayat. They have completely transformed the village. It’s mindblowing.
Anandwadi village in Latur’s Nilanga taluka has elected an all-woman panchayat. In the recent Panchayat polls, these six women ran unopposed. Their way was paved by two-time Sarpanch, Bhagyashree Chame. She was one of the only three women elected in 2015. Inspired already?
The village, located 25kms from Latur, is more commonly called Gaur. It’s home to 635 people, mostly farmers. In the last 5 years, under the leadership of Bhagyashree, Gaur has seen a mind-boggling increase in cleanliness, a campaign against superstitions, change in name plates of all 112 homes to that of their women occupants, a sanitary napkin dispenser, inclusion of widows in festivities, a drive to encourage organ donation, and a free flour-grinding mill. I think all our politicians could use a few courses taught by this woman.
Nine years after 50% seats were reserved for women in #Maharashtra’s gram panchayats, Anandwadi village in Latur’s Nilanga taluka has picked an all-woman panchayat.
— The Indian Express (@IndianExpress) January 25, 2021
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Bhagyashree first became a sarpanch in 2005. She now wants to make way for a new leader, chosen from the six women that have been elected. Even the seventh seat that is reserved for ST’s will be filled soon with a woman.
One of the most vital improvements that have been made in the village is the destigmatizing of menstruation. The drive to normalize the conversation surrounding periods and menstrual hygiene was led by ASHA worker Manisha Tangadpalle. They set up a sanitary pad dispenser and are in the process of setting up a machine for safe and hygienic disposal of sanitary pads too.
Manisha said, “Menstruation is a natural process, but girls hesitate to talk to their mothers about it, though they talk to me freely. The sanitary napkin dispenser we set up in the Anganwadi gives three napkins for Rs 5. Soon we will install a machine for safe disposal of napkins too.”
That’s not all. Two years ago, on Raksha Bandhan, all the brothers gifted sanitary napkins to their sisters. I am really loving how this village is progressing beyond the rest of the country. In fact, Gaur has also worked on dispelling superstitions that usually grip villages. An abandoned and deserted cemetery was turned into a park for children. This was done to get rid of baseless superstitions and fears about ghosts and spirits.
Improved cleanliness, a campaign against superstitions, a sanitary napkin dispenser, inclusion of widows in festivities, a free flour-grinding mill…Anandwadi village in Maharashtra shows what happens when you have #WomenInLeadership positions.https://t.co/kDMoWg2k5s
— UNFPA India (@UNFPAIndia) January 25, 2021
Nilanga MLA Sambhaji Patil Nilangekar says that another village in the taluka had also elected an all-women panchayat. But unlike in Gaur, they were met with hurdles and opposition. In this village, the women were chosen by the villagers themselves.
Another amazing transformation that this village has seen is the Kanyadaan Yojana scheme. Under this initiative, the villagers make donations to ensure no one “thinks of their daughters as a burden” In the last five years, villagers have shared the expenses for five weddings. Also, a board at the entrance to the panchayat declares that the village doesn’t take or receive dowry. How amazing is this?
Ayodhya Chame, 55, head of Gaur’s Tantamukti Samiti or dispute-resolution committee, said that having women in leadership positions sets a great example for the younger generations. She said, “Earlier, only fathers would go to children’s school to discuss issues. Now mothers come, and children see them as having a role beyond the home.”
These women are transforming the village of Gaur and we are all for it. This is what happens when women are in charge. It sets a fabulous example and we can only hope other villages and towns follow suit.