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Women run a better show

A UN report praises women panchayats in India, reports Chetan Chauhan.

india Updated: Dec 13, 2006 03:14 IST

Trust women, they make better representatives of the people than men. They meet development goals and pay special attention to children.

At a time when a political consensus continues to elude a bill to reserve 33 per cent seats for women in Parliament, a UNICEF report heaps praise on women representatives in India's villages.

Released on Tuesday, The State of the World's Children 2007 says reservation for women in panchayats has helped bring all-round development to villages. It refers to a study of 165 villages in West Bengal which showed that, with the participation of women in village councils, investment in drinking water doubled, government health workers started visiting more frequently, more girl children started going to school, and roads improved.

Another survey — of 100 villages in Rajasthan — found that those with women pradhans got more children immunised, sent more girl children to school, and had better health facilities for women.

Sharmila Tagore, UNICEF goodwill ambassador, said at the release of the report, "The formula is, invest in women. It promises a double dividend, both for children and for adults."

The reports makes a strong case for more women in Parliament. It gives examples of countries like Argentina, where welfare improved as more women became legislators.

The report says India's Parliament had only 8.3 per cent women in 2004. In comparison, Pakistan's parliament had 21.3 per cent, and Bangladesh's 14.8 per cent.

Email Chetan Chauhan: cchetan@hindustantimes.com