Vandana Bahadur Maida, the Jhabua woman who figures on the page dedicated to the month of May of the UN women calendar of 2013, is now dreaming big. She wants to contest legislative assembly polls in the next few years.
Vandana, sarpanch of Khankhandvi gram panchayat was selected by a team of UN Women South Asia office in Delhi. The calendar, based on the theme of women empowerment, showcases the women from India, Bangladesh, Maldives and Bhutan, who on their own have worked to bring awareness in the society.
"She finds a place in the calendar for her role in empowering women," said Ansul Saxena, Jhabua district project officer, UN Women. "We are currently running a project in Madhya Pradesh for women empowerment. Vandana also underwent training and she soon became a role model," he added.
UN Women helps to train 65,000 elected women representatives so they can influence public services.
"The biggest achievement has been that now women too have started attending the gram sabha meetings, which till recently was a male's domain," said Vandana.
Elected to gram sabha three years ago, she has tried to address the problems of her village panchayat.
The gram panchayat includes three villages Khankhandvi, Karpatya, and Guradiya with a population of more than 2,600 people. Till now, she has constructed four ponds, three roads and she now wants to construct a bigger pond. “The biggest problem here is water. I feel a big pond should be constructed here so that the problem of water is solved.
Besides people will get employment,” said a modest Vandana. Although she has studied only till Class 8, Vandana wants every child of her village to go for higher studies. “I want a school till Class 12 in the panchayat. I managed to get a primary school constructed in my gram sabha as the kids had to trek more than 3 km from here to attend classes,” she said. Mother of three, her husband, Bahadur Maida never interferes in her decisions. “I have never intervened in her decision making process. Initially, I had to guide her in some technical aspects but now she is an expert,” said Bahadur, himself a farmer.