Empowering women, in words and deeds

Empowering women, in words and deeds

Awareness level of women in GPs of DK is unbelievably outstanding

The records are not on paper but it is in live form. The records are all those Gram Panchayat level elected representatives who have broken out of the mould and have started thinking out of the box in the direction of development of their villages.

Sugrama Okkuta formed about two years ago has brought about sea change among the women elected for local governing bodies at the grassroots level under the able leadership of their State President M Renuka over the last two years.

A rural lady having carved a niche for herself in farming, Renuka never had any plans of looking beyond her farmland. After series of awards that farming brought to her, she was contented with what life had to offer but it was the fame that she earned through her good work, people asked her to contest in the gram panchayat election from Namagunda Panchayat of Chikballapur.

Landing there in the Panchayat as a gullible member, often taken for granted just because she is woman, revolution happened in her life after coming in contact with The Hunger Project (THP). After being trained by THP, she jumped into Sugrama wagon to lead it and recreate her success story in almost every woman GP member.

Today Sugrama has about 3,000 members in 17 districts and Sugrama is aiming at having 5,000 members very soon.

During her visit to Dakshina Kannada district on Sunday to assess the awareness and participation level of Gram Panchayat reps in the district, Renuka told Deccan Herald that Sugrama has started spreading its wings and soon it aims to become a Non Government Organisation taking up project on social issues.

“We want to empower women and make them educated in true sense. We have already got a project on women and property rights. We would want to take up more such projects,” she said adding that the awareness level of women in the GPs of Dakshina Kannada district is unbelievably outstanding.

 “Most of them are educated and even if they are not, they are willing to learn,” she said from her observation.


Talking about the challenges ahead of her, she said that the major problem at the GP level is paucity of funds. “In most of the GPs across the State, the people are not in the position to even pay their taxes due to poverty. In such a case, banking on the Rs six lakh fund given to the GP is impossible,” she said adding that Sugrama will chalk out plans to press for more funds.


She said that a GP member gets an honorarium of Rs 250 per month! “We have demanded the government to increase the President’s honorarium to Rs 5,000, Vice-President to Rs 3,000 and every member must get Rs 2,500,” she said and questioned when ZP, TP Presidents get vehicles for the office, why not the GP President.

Five year term

Coming down heavily on the division of term at the Panchayats based on reservations, she said that in many Panchayats, even five persons serve as Presidents over five years.

 “This is ridiculous because every person comes to term with some ideas and goals. By the time he is about to start working on his goals, he has to make way for the other person,” she said.She opined that GP President should be given term of five years to complete with no deviation from this whatsoever.“Andhra and Tamilnadu have direct election of Panchayat President. Even we should adopt the same system of President being elected by the people,” she said.