The Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations and the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), is organizing the side event titled “Localizing the SDGs: Women in Local Governance in India Lead the Way” on 3rdMay, 2024, during the 57th Session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD57), taking place from the 29th of April until the 3rd of May 2024 at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Smt. Supriya Das Datta, Sabhadhipati, Sepahijala Zilla Parishad, Tripura; Smt. Kunuku Hema Kumari, Sarpanch, Pekeru Gram Panchayat, Andhra Pradesh and Smt. Neeru Yadav, Sarpanch, Lambi Aheer Gram Panchayat, Rajasthan are attending the event to represent the Elected Women Representatives from the rural local self-government in India and the delegation is led by Shri Vivek Bharadwaj, Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, GoI.

Scheduled for today -3rdMay 2024, the side event titled “Localizing the SDGs: Women in Local Governance in India Lead the Way” will shed light on the key role of Indian women in grassroots political leadership, emphasizing their significant contributions to sustainable development at the grassroots level.This momentous occasion will be livestreamed from the United Nations Headquarters on the social media pages of theMinistry of Panchayati Raj, GoI, commencing at 10:45 PM (IST) on 3rdMay, 2024 (Friday), facilitating a global audience to witness this inspiring display/manifestation of women’s empowerment in action.(https://webtv.un.org/en/asset/k1e/k1e5k5ukq7)

Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, will inaugurate the event by highlighting the pivotal role of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in advancing gender equality, and the significance of women leadership in grassroots governance, through her opening remarks. Following Ambassador Kamboj’s address, Secretary Shri Vivek Bharadwajwill discuss strategies derived from India’s Panchayati Raj Institutions aimed at fostering gender equality and women's empowerment, particularly focusing on poverty reduction and inclusive development. He will also share insights from India’s experience with women’s leadership in local governance.

The side event will feature a panel discussion with three distinguished Elected Women Representatives (EWRs), who will share their invaluable experiences, insights, and perspectives on local self-governance as well as their impactful journey. Smt. Supriya Das Datta, Sabhadhipati, Sepahijala Zilla Parishad, Tripura will share insights on the women's leadership role in the Panchayats in enabling inclusive development. Smt. Kunuku Hema Kumari, Sarpanch, Pekeru Gram Panchayat, West Godavari, Andhra Pradesh will highlight the Panchayat’s role in driving key social sector programmes. Smt. Neeru Yadav, Sarpanch, Lambi Aheer Gram Panchayat, Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan will share her experience in promoting women and girl-friendly Panchayats.

The CPD57 side-event will also see the presence of Mr. Pio Smith, the UNFPA Asia Pacific Regional Director, Ms. Andrea M. Wojnar, the UNFPA India Representative, and Shri Alok Prem Nagar, Joint Secretary, MoPR, who will share their insightful remarks and recognize these leading EWRs for their game-changing efforts and instrumental role as torchbearers in driving forward the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Elected Women Representatives (EWRs) have been instrumental in driving positive change at the grassroots level. India stands at the forefront globally, with 1.4 million women serving as elected members of Panchayati Raj Institutions / Rural Local Bodies, constituting 46% of the total elected representatives of PRIs. The CPD57 side event on 3rdMay, 2024 aims to highlight India’s trailblazing model of empowering EWRs in Panchayati Raj Institutions to spearhead the localization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It showcases how EWRs play catalytic roles in championing gender equality, poverty alleviation, and inclusive development at the grassroots.

India’s remarkable success stories, where EWRs have driven positive and impactful change through community leadership and engagement, advancing SDG localization, will be highlighted. The event illustrates the scalability and replicability of India's transformative approach in empowering EWRs as agents of change to steer local development aligned with the SDGs.

Moreover, it advocates for greater global recognition and support for India’s pioneering model as a best practice in promoting women's meaningful participation and leadership towards achieving the SDGs at the grassroots level. This groundbreaking event emphasizes India’s commitment to empowering women in local governance as torchbearers of sustainable development.

During its G20 Presidency, India reaffirmed its commitment to gender equality and women-led development by establishing the Working Group on Women’s Empowerment. The Ministry of Panchayati Raj has taken a proactive leadership role in localizing and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in rural India, with women spearheading local self-governance initiatives. Embracing a thematic approach, the Ministry of Panchayati Raj has endeavoured to localize the SDGs through Panchayati Raj Institutions, consolidating the 17 SDGs into nine overarching themes.Notably, ‘Theme 9: Women-Friendly Panchayat’underlines the pivotal objective of safeguarding and promoting the interests of women, while ensuring their survival, protection, development, and participation rights at the grassroots level.

In order to empower women to assume leadership roles effectively, various initiatives have been launched, including providing quality training. Beginning this year, an innovative and first-of-its-kind initiative – Leadership and Management Development Programme – has been undertaken to conduct training programs for elected representatives and functionaries of PRIs in premier management institutes such as IIM Ahmedabad. The CPD57 side event showcases how EWRs like Smt. Supriya Das Datta, who received training in the first batch of MoPR’s Leadership and Management Development Programme at IIM Ahmedabad, play catalytic roles in championing gender equality, poverty alleviation, and inclusive development at the grassroots.

Brief Profile of Three EWRs attending CPD57 side-event at the UN Headquarters

Smt. Supriya Das Datta, Sabhadhipati, Sepahijala Zilla Parishad, Tripura has promoted women’s involvement in public decision-making processes. She initiated discussion platforms for women in the District to voice concerns and views on village development issues before District Panchayat officials. She has been active in promoting child-care facilities to create a conducive work environment for women. She firmly believes in addressing deep-rooted social norms to achieve gender equality and has actively worked towards this goal in her public role. Smt. Supriya Das Datta holds a Diploma in Pharmacy.

Smt. Kunuku Hema Kumari, Sarpanch, Pekeru Gram Panchayat, Block: Iragavaram, District: West Godavari, Andhra Pradesh has dedicated herself to raising awareness about government schemes and programs within the community. She has focused on ensuring the effective delivery of public services to the most vulnerable and marginalized groups. Smt. K. Hema Kumari has organized regular medical camps in her village, ensuring that medical services reached even the most remote areas. She has successfully established linkages between frontline health workers and women and girls in need of health services through her public outreach efforts. She holds a Master's Degree in Technology and previously served as a faculty member for Electronics and e-Communication in an Engineering College.

Smt. Neeru Yadav, Sarpanch, Lambi Aheer Gram Panchayat, Tehsil: Buhana, District: Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan has led initiatives to combat gender stereotypes and empower women. She prioritized girls' education, leading community efforts to reduce school dropout rates among girls. She has been acknowledged by the Government of Rajasthan for outstanding contributions to education. She initiated girls’ engagement in sports, particularly hockey, challenging regressive gender norms and earning the title “Hockey Wali Sarpanch”. Smt. Neeru Yadav steered campaigns to reduce plastic usage and organized large-scale plantation drives for environmental preservation. She launched an innovative initiative to promote environmental conservation by presenting trees as part of Kanyadaan during marriages and initiated the campaign ‘My Tree–My Friend’. She holds a Master’s Degree in Mathematics and Education and is currently pursuing her Ph.D.

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