An illiterate woman sarpanch Kanna, wife of Mansoor, aged about 35 years, resides in Chhota Salunia village, falling under Bara Salunia Gram Panchayat. Her husband had deep ‘interest’ in panchayat related work. Since the seat was reserved for a woman, he fielded her to contest election without her knowledge. She won the election and did not go to any panchayat meeting for the next four years and all the panchayat work was being looked after by her husband. If her signatures were needed the papers were brought to her place and if she wanted to go to some meeting she was denied permission.
The time went on. When Sampark started promoting self help groups in the village, she somehow got associated with it along with eight women. She got an opportunity to attend women leadership development workshop, where she got important information and became acquainted with her rights and responsibilities. The organisation explained to the participants the functions of panches, mode of their working, problems in their working and solution of their working.
After this she got an opportunity to attend Women People’s Representatives Exploitation Workshop in Bhopal. Here too she got too many information. After coming back from Bhopal she got an opportunity to attend workshop of village secretariat. Owing to these workshops, she got new and important information about panchayat related works. Today she is able to take stock of the works after talking to the sarpanch and secretary.
If one talks to Kanna, one would find that she has lots of confidence. She never went to the panchayat meeting and never understood village problems, yet she calls sarpanch and secretary corrupt. Today Kanna has linked 30 women with self help groups. Village women contact her to get information about functioning of panchayat. She is gathering information about contesting the next election.
While attending state level women panch/sarpanch workshop, she talked to the journalists without hesitation. This had been possible only because of her increased confidence.