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Empowering Girls through ‘Balika Panchayat’: A Transformative Initiative in Nanded, Maharashtra

'Balika Panchayat' empowers girls through local governance, fostering leadership by proposing resolutions for village issues without additional funds.
Indian Masterminds Stories

In a unique initiative in the Nanded district of Maharashtra, the ‘Balika Panchayat’ program has been launched as a significant stride towards empowering girls through local governance. Spearheaded by Ms Ms. Minal Karanwal, an IAS officer of 2019 batch, the first phase recently concluded with notable achievements such as eradicating alcohol consumption in Yergi village. These Gram Panchayats, recognized for their impactful contributions, exemplify the collaborative spirit between Sarpanchs and young girls, showcasing their dedication to community welfare. It’s a great learning process for girls in governance and encourages them to contribute to societal betterment.

Building on this success, the initiative is transitioning into its second phase, empowering girl panchayats to proactively propose resolutions addressing pressing village issues. Awards will now be granted based on the effectiveness of these resolutions and their implementation by elected Gram Panchayats, emphasizing a commitment to inclusive development without separate financial allocations.

Recently, a felicitation ceremony was held to honor Gram Panchayats for outstanding performance in Balika Panchayat activities, where Yergi received the award for the best girl panchayat. Indian Masterminds had the opportunity to interact with Ms. Karanwal, CEO of the Zila Parishad, nanded, to learn more about this initiative.

IAS Minal Karanwal interacting with Balika Panchayat

BALIKA PANCHAYAT

This initiative began in Nanded district on February 4th of this year. The ‘Balika (Girls) Panchayat’ was launched across 60 Gram Panchayats within the district. To kick-start this initiative, the Sarpanchs of these Gram Panchayats were convened at the district headquarters, where they were introduced to the concept of Balika Panchayat through informative videos.

Following this introduction, Balika Gram Panchayats were established within these elected Gram Sabhas, comprising girls aged 12 to 18 years. Each Balika Gram Panchayat included 5 girls, with one of them assuming the role of Sarpanch. The primary objective of these Balika Gram Panchayats is to familiarize themselves with the workings of the Gram Panchayat and to effect positive changes. They learn about the allocation of Gram Panchayat funds, the decision-making process, and the overall significance of the Gram Panchayat. Furthermore, the girls are encouraged to take initiative within the Gram Sabhas themselves.

To incentivize their participation, competitions are held every three months, with awards presented for notable achievements during this period.

She said, “This concept originated in Bhuj, Gujarat, perhaps. I visited IIM Ahmedabad for training under the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, where I learned about it. The Balika Panchayat initiative reflects a pioneering approach to Gram Swarajya, fostering grassroots leadership and community engagement.”

A girl from Yergi village delivering her speech during the felicitation program for the Best Balika Panchayat

THE IMPACT 

Some Gram Panchayats have achieved remarkable results, particularly through collaborative efforts between Sarpanchs and girls. For instance, the Gram Panchayat of Yergi recently received the Best Panchayat award for its outstanding performance in the Swachhata Abhiyan and its significant role in achieving a drug-free status for the village. The Sarpanch and girls of this Panchayat have been instrumental in convincing villagers to take medicine for Elephantiasis, conducting effective door-to-door campaigns for this cause.

In another instance, a female Sarpanch in a different Gram Sabha actively involved the girl Panchayat in all Panchayat meetings and assigned them various awareness tasks. These girls have become a trusted point of contact for villagers seeking solutions to their problems. Moreover, the girl Panchayat of this Gram Panchayat advocated for the provision of sanitary napkins in schools, demonstrating their commitment to addressing important community needs.

Interacting with members of the Balika Panchayat

SECOND PHASE

The initiative has now entered its second phase, where girl panchayats will begin taking ‘RESOLUTIONS’ on any issue. These girl panchayats will draft resolutions addressing various village issues, which will then be presented to the real or elected Gram Panchayat and its Sarpanch for action and resolution.

Now, awards will also be distributed in this phase based on the number and impact of resolutions taken by the girl panchayats, as well as the extent to which these resolutions are considered and acted upon by the elected Panchayats.

She said, “There are no separate funds allocated for these panchayats; their role is primarily developmental, providing moral support to the Sarpanch and engaging in a learning process. This initiative represents a novel approach to Gram Swarajya, emphasizing community involvement and empowerment.”

IAS officer Minal presenting the Best ‘Girl Panchayat Award’ to a girl from Yergi village

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