Mangaluru: Food grown in Asia and Africa supports 2.5 Billion people or one-third of the world's population and 80% of this food is grown in smallholding rural setups.
These smallholder units are sustained by the women and girls who toil daily so that the male folk can concentrate on getting credit and agricultural inputs, connect with high-value chains and get better returns for their crops. Their main contribution comes from unpaid care and domestic work within rural families and communities. If a house does not have piped water the womenfolk go out and get the water home. And when menfolk migrate to other places for better earnings, the extra work they are leaving behind falls on the women who have to handle it in addition to their normal work.
Whether due to poverty or exclusion, rural women always fare worse than their menfolk and their urban sisters. Apart from a lack of recognition, these women also lose out when food security is threatened and it is always the rural women and girls that are affected first.
This is the reason the United Nations has marks October 15 as an International Day for Rural Women. The United Nations is now taking up very seriously the support of women that supports and sustains all of us. The emphasis is on integrating a gender perspective into all policies and programs especially with regard to access to transport, utilities, healthcare, reproductive medicine and involvement in all decision making, particularly related to transport, emergencies, peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction. This would ensure that women are able to share their inputs whenever a plan is made and they would have an equal say when decisions are taken.
Karnataka's SUGRAMA - Grama Panchayat Chunayitha Mahila Prathinidigala Sangha, Karnataka - is a federation representing the rights and interests of Gram Panchayat elected women representatives of Karnataka. Integrating the gender perspective in practice at the grassroots can be witnessed at the Taluk Level Sugrama meets.
SUGRAMA, registered under the Societies Registration Act of Karnataka, 1960, SUGRAMA is a platform for women members of Gram Panchayats to come together and support each other in bringing positive change through collective action.
SUGRAMA's mission is to empower elected Gram Panchayat women representatives to collectively advocate and practice good governance for the overall development of Gram Panchayats. Their vision is to empower Gram Panchayat women representatives in a gender just and equal society. Advocacy for people-centred policies is the primary mandate of SUGRAMA.
The members of SUGRAMA collaborate and support each other to promote good governance, deepen democracy and move beyond representation to participate as active and effective leaders. It is also a platform for co-learning and sharing of experiences. Sustained efforts of its members have resulted in SUGRAMA being built into a vibrant state level federation. Today, SUGRAMA has come to represent the united strength of elected women leaders of Gram Panchayats in Karnataka.
The Governance Structure
Objectives of Sugrama
As a collective force, members of SUGRAMA support Elected Women Representatives (EWRs) to assert their rights and exercise their leadership. Core objectives of SUGRAMA are —
- Encouraging elected women representatives to be active and effective leaders in Gram Panchayats. - Supporting elected women representatives in addressing challenges in Gram Panchayats. - Assessing the impact of state policies on Grama Panchayats and undertaking advocacy in the interest of SUGRAMA members.
- Disseminating information and advice on Panchayat Raj Institutions to SUGRAMA members.
- Addressing issues of social and gender injustice.
The Taluk Sugrama (Good Governance model) where elected women members of Gram Panchayats meet regularly ensuring transparency, good governance, and social justice is an eye-opener for those desirous of integrating gender perspectives into governance. They handle all the collective actions required on a regular basis. Indeed, a meeting of the Bantwal Taluk "Sugrama Federation" was held yesterday at Nava Chethana Training Center, Muidipu. It was an enlightening, empowering experience, even as an observer.
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