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India Showcases Women’s Leadership in Local Governance at UN Side Event

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

This event aims to spotlight the pivotal role played by Indian women in grassroots political leadership and their remarkable contributions to sustainable development at the grassroots level. Elected Women Representatives (EWRs) from rural local self-governments in India will share their experiences, insights, and perspectives, underscoring the transformative impact of women’s leadership in local governance.

Representing the EWRs are Supriya Das Datta, Sabhadhipati of Sepahijala Zilla Parishad, Tripura; Kunuku Hema Kumari, Sarpanch of Pekeru Gram Panchayat, Andhra Pradesh; and Neeru Yadav, Sarpanch of Lambi Aheer Gram Panchayat, Rajasthan. The delegation is led by Vivek Bharadwaj, Secretary of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Government of India.

The side event, scheduled for May 3rd, 2024, will be livestreamed from the United Nations Headquarters, allowing a global audience to witness the inspiring display of women’s empowerment in action. Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, will inaugurate the event, emphasizing the pivotal role of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Secretary Vivek Bharadwaj will discuss strategies derived from India’s PRIs aimed at fostering gender equality and women’s empowerment, focusing on poverty reduction and inclusive development. A panel discussion featuring the three distinguished EWRs will provide insights into their impactful journey and the role of Panchayats in driving social sector programs and enabling inclusive development.

The event will also feature remarks from Mr. Pio Smith, the UNFPA Asia Pacific Regional Director, and Ms. Andrea M. Wojnar, the UNFPA India Representative, acknowledging the pioneering efforts of EWRs in driving forward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the grassroots level.

India stands at the forefront globally with 1.4 million women serving as elected members of Panchayati Raj Institutions, constituting 46% of the total elected representatives. The CPD57 side event aims to highlight India’s model of empowering EWRs to spearhead the localization of the SDGs, showcasing their catalytic roles in championing gender equality, poverty alleviation, and inclusive development at the grassroots.

The Ministry of Panchayati Raj has taken proactive steps to localize and achieve the SDGs in rural India, empowering women to lead local self-governance initiatives. Various initiatives, including leadership development programs, have been launched to equip EWRs with the skills and knowledge needed to drive positive change in their communities.

The participation of Supriya Das Datta, Kunuku Hema Kumari, and Neeru Yadav, representing the diverse experiences and achievements of EWRs, underscores India’s commitment to promoting women’s meaningful participation and leadership in local governance towards achieving the SDGs. Their stories serve as inspiration and exemplify the transformative impact of women’s leadership at the grassroots level.

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