Even though the feudal mindset of their male counterparts have tried to prevent them, a large number of women came out of the four walls of their homes, participated in panchayat election and worked for the development of their areas.
So, some of the 500 women sarpanchs, who came to participate in a two-day convention for strengthening women's empowerment through electoral process (SWEEP) movement, spun their yarn of success to motivate others.
One such sarpanch was from Maronha village in Satna district, Munni, who, said, "When I was elected for the first time five years ago, I was unaware of my rights but after a training programme, I came to know that the Indian Constitution has given equal rights to both women and men."
She said, "We were trained and informed about the rights by various NGOs. I used my rights to fight against some influential people to develop my area." She added: "In my area, women did not come to attend meetings but I motivated them to raise their issues before the panchayat."
Similarly, the sarpanch of Posta in Sidhi Rajwanti Singh related how she overcame the hurdles that came in the way of development of her village without removing her veil. "I made several efforts to end the problem of malnutrition in my panchayat; and I achieved success," she said.
In the same vein, Asha Vishwakarma and Beti Saket, said, "It's necessary to be informative to run the gram panchayat. Though we never went to school, our awareness about rights has helped us work for our panchayats."
The Hunger Project state convener Shibani Sharma, who also spoke at the convention, said, "Through SWEEP, we try to make the women sarpanch contenders aware of their rights so that they can take decisions on their own."
Despite the saga of success scripted by women, their counterparts in Chambal area avoid participating in panchayat election because of the feudal mindset of their male counterparts. And, this was evident at a two-day convention for SWEEP, as lesser number of women from that area participated in it.
While about 500 women from 40 districts took oath at the meet to participate in the electoral process and contest elections, only a handful of women were from Bhind and Morena.