Uma Sao, 36, a mother of three daughters and a son is the sarpanch of Seher, 250 km from the state capital Raipur.
Demure and graceful, Sao is nevertheless a determined woman. She fought the sarpanch election in 2005 after the village womenfolk persuaded her. In the 2010 elections, she fought for an unreserved seat and won against five locally powerful men.
“The women are my support base,” she says. Sao has been hailed for her work in improving the village water supply, road and pond constructions, as well as her role in prohibiting alcohol consumption in her village. “Our committees threaten drunkards with sticks when they create a nuisance in the village.”