CWC supports the pilot of the Special Gram Sabhas for Women in Karnataka

Posted on August 23, 2014


The Children’s Gram Sabhas had already gained mileage in the 56 panchayats of the Kundapur taluk, since 2010. Due to the children’s gram sabhas, children were able to identify problems and were able to find solutions to their problems with the help of the Panchayat. CWC felt the need to take this a level further by organising women in a similar manner to take forward their issues and problems to the panchayat and have systems similar to those of children. An example from Balkur proves the need for such systems. A women in the village was harassed for dowry and the women of the entire village came together and approached the Panchayat in this regard and offered her protection. A more systematic approach to exclusively have platforms for women to raise such issues and find solutions for them, which is otherwise not possible in a regular gram sabha, was increasingly felt.

As a result of the circular received by the Government in the month of June 2014 to conduct Special Women and Children’s Gram Sabhas and in the light of the recent sexual assaults on women and children, the collective need had been felt by the Gram Panchayats, Taluk Panchayats, Police Departments and the women and children to have this piloting process of Special Gram Sabhas focus on the need to create systems that ensure safety and protection of women in their respective villages. Such a pilot has been conducted for the first time in India after its independence in Kundapur taluk, Karnataka and it is a proud moment for CWC as we have provided information and technical support to the women and children.

The women and children have undergone preparatory workshops with CWC to participate effectively in these Special Gram Sabhas. They have prepared a list of their problems and the departments responsible for the implementation of the solutions to each of these problems. The women and children have been carrying out processions calling out slogans to create awareness in the community regarding the safety and protection of women. At the end of the procession, they reach the Gram Sabhas and tie a number of pink (for women) and red (for children) ribbons to a tree in front of the Panchayat, depicting the number of issues that the women and children have raised.

The women and children have largely raised demands for a separate women’s helpline (which will be the responsibility of the police department to share their problems), a suggestion box (which will be the responsibility of the Panchayat), for the women to share the complaints and concerns regarding safety and protection issues in their villages. They have also demanded the selection of a Mahila Mitra (Woman’s Friend) who will listen to the problems raised by the women and take it to the panchayat. Each of these Gram Sabhas have been concluding with the constitution of an Implementation Committee, which has members from the Village and Taluk Panchayat, Anganwadi, ASHA workers, women from SHG groups and representatives of women and children which will oversee the implementation of the decisions taken at the Gram sabha and a Watchdog Committee to keep a check on the safety and protection aspects in the village, which will have representatives from the police department and representatives from women and children from each of the villages.

These Gram sabhas will be held across 56 Panchayats in Kundapur Taluk starting from 18 August to 30 August, 2014. So far, the Gram Sabhas have been held in Siddapur, Amparu, Kandluru, Balkur, Basrur, Paduvari and Hosangadi. Today it is being held in Koteshwara, Hangluru and Koni. The women have raised specific issues regarding alcoholism, misuse of mobile phones and lack of safety for women and children at public places. The officials of the police departments, who have been a part of these Gram Sabhas have urged the women and children to come forward and register complaints with the police. The taluk panchayat and the Gram panchayat representatives have assured their support to women and been a part of the constitution of the implementation committees and the watchdog committees being formed in every village.