Strengthening Women’s Political participation in Jharkhand

7 December 2015

CREA, through its programme, Ibtida, is strengthening feminist leadership at the community level in Jharkhand.

Traditional patriarchal structures pose hurdles in the path of women and girls in accessing their rights. Violence is a common part of their lives, including within families. When women get actively involved in their own development, it brings change not only in their lives but also in their entire community. Supporting one woman means uplifting an entire community.

CREA works with elected women representatives in Jharkhand to enable them to achieve greater political participation, exercise their right to vote and to contest elections. CREA works to build the knowledge and leadership capacity of elected women representatives and women voters so that they know about and can demand their rights. CREA aims to build capacities of 640 Elected Women Representatives (EWRs) and 23 women-led, grassroots NGOs to function effectively as feminist advocates and agents of change in the local governance (Panchayati Raj) Institutions and at community level in four districts in Jharkhand. CREA is working in collaboration with seven women-led, grassroots organisations working in 140 Panchayats of 13 blocks of Chatra, Hazaribagh, Ranchi and East Singhbhum districts in Jharkhand.

In November 2015, in run up to the Panchayat elections’ in Jharkhand, many women who are interested in participating have been misinformed and discouraged from participating in the elections both as voters and contestants. CREA ran a campaign to debunk myths around women’s participation in elections, “Meri Panchayat, Meri Shakti- Mujhe bhi gino”( My Panchayat, My Strength- Count Me In) . Through a dedicated infoline number set up in partnership with Jharkhand Mobile Vaani, women have been encouraged to give a missed call on the infoline number. The system is programmed to call back and the callers, through an IVR, can listen to the pre-recorded messages about filing nomination, contesting from unreserved seats, bringing positive change in the village through government schemes, building infrastructure, addressing iniquity and the voting rights of women.

CREA is working closely with the EWRs to build their understanding on issues of development so that they can integrate issues related to gender, sexuality and rights for all women, girls and marginalised populations in the functioning ofPanchayats and delivery of entitlements. This is an endeavour to build an enabling environment in the community for all women and girls to be able to live their lives free of violence, stigma and discrimination so that they can realise their full potential socially, economically and politically.

This three-year intervention will strengthen feminist leadership and decision-making skills of EWRs to enable them to function effectively and autonomously in their positions in the local governance. Through this intervention, CREA has been expanding and strengthening its network of grassroots, women-led organisations in Jharkhand and has been building their understanding on issues of gender, sexuality, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), and political participation. CREA also aims to strengthen the EWRs’ skills and capacities to integrate an intersectional and rights-affirming approach in their work with women and girls.