A Space for Women’s Voices: Odisha Women conduct Gram Sabha to place gender-based violence

Bhubaneswar:A unique Gram Sabha on gender-based violence was organised across 17 districts in Odisha where the meetings were being led by the women as they were holding centre stage to discuss issues that concern them the most. The objective of these Gram Sabha were to ensure the involvement of women in Gram Sabha and place issues that concern them the most.

Thousands of women from more than 1000 Gram Panchayats participated in these Gram Sabha and discussed on women’s rights and entitlements and gender based violence that occurs in the society. The unique Gram Sabha concept was facilitated by the nonprofit Atmashakti Trust, Mahila Shramajeebee Mancha, Odisha and Odisha Shramajeebee Mancha to symbolize their commitment to help end gender-based violence as a part of UN System’s 16 Days of Activism campaign.

The formulation of the participatory Gram Panchayat Developmental Plan (GPDP) by the Gram Panchayats coincided with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015.
“Women can play a great role in transformational socio-economic and environmental change and can ensure local economic development and social justice. However, despite provisioning, participation of women in Gram Sabhas are very less and therefore most of the women and gender based issues are not being placed in these Gram Sabhas. Therefore, the unique Gram Sabha will build confidence among women to know about the process and then can ensure their participation in a massive scale”, said Shanti Bhoi, President, Mahila Shramajeebee Mancha, Odisha.

“Various issues such as lack of knowledge on rights and entitlements, process of Gram Sabha and struggle for an equal space in workplace and decision making platforms create barriers for women to place their issues in Gram Sabha which contributes to the increasing trend of gender-based violence against women and girls, child marriage, role of women’s participation in governance mechanism. Therefore, these Gram Sabha will symbolically send a message across societies on how empowerment of women will pave path for an equal world”, said Ms Ruchi Kashyap, Executive Trustee of Atmashakti Trust.

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