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Indian Women Leaders Shine at United Nations CPD57 Side Event

New York: In a historic gathering at the United Nations Headquarters, the voices of elected women representatives (EWRs) from India’s Panchayati Raj Institutions echoed with power and purpose, captivating audiences at the CPD57 Side Event titled “Localizing the SDGs: Women in Local Governance in India Lead the Way”. The event showcased the remarkable achievements and transformative initiatives of three iconic women Panchayat leaders, Supriya Das Datta, Kunuku Hema Kumari, and Neeru Yadav, who shared their inspiring stories of empowering women and girls through innovative local governance practices.

Organized jointly by the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations and the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Side Event served as a platform to highlight India’s unique Panchayati Raj system as a model of decentralized power and direct democracy. With over 1.4 million Elected Women Representatives, India’s journey with Panchayati Raj embodies empowerment, inclusion, and progress, particularly in advancing women’s leadership and localizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj, in her opening remarks, emphasized India’s commitment to empowering women in local governance and aligning local planning processes with the SDGs. She underscored the critical role of EWRs in driving grassroots development and fostering active people’s participation, citing India’s rich tradition of rural local self-government as a testament to the nation’s dedication to democratic ideals.

Vivek Bharadwaj, Secretary of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, highlighted India’s innovative approaches to localizing the SDGs, leveraging technology for development, and empowering women at the grassroots level. He emphasized the role of Gram Panchayats in driving progress on the SDGs through thematic annual plans and policy interventions, showcasing initiatives such as “Drone Didi” and “Lakhpati Didi” as examples of transformative change.

The event featured insightful presentations by Supriya Das Datta, Kunuku Hema Kumari, and Neeru Yadav, who shared their experiences and initiatives in promoting women’s empowerment, health, education, livelihoods, and environmental sustainability at the local level. Their stories highlighted the resilience, innovation, and impact of women’s leadership in advancing the SDGs.

Keynote speakers, including Ambassador Andreas Lovold of Norway and representatives from UNFPA, commended India’s progress in promoting gender equality and localizing the SDGs. They underscored the importance of women’s leadership in driving development and emphasized the global significance of India’s women-led initiatives.

The CPD57 Side Event concluded with a call to export India’s Panchayati Raj model as an effective system of local governance, inviting foreign delegations to witness the brilliance and innovation of India’s EWRs firsthand. As Ambassador Kamboj stated, India’s Panchayati Raj system has revolutionized development with women at the forefront, serving as a beacon of inspiration for the world.

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