Empowering women in India in respect of their own potential for change has already achieved a great deal.
In India, one of the greatest social experiments of our time is going on: In 1992 the Indian government passed a law to delegate political power and resources in rural areas more frequently to bodies of local self-government, the so-called “panchayats”.
In particular, it was determined that at least one third of the panchayat delegates have to be women. This is a revolutionary step that has far-reaching consequences. For centuries women’s lives have been characterized by lack of power, malnutrition and lacking education, but now, for the first time, they have at their disposal, at least in principle, the mandate and the political influence to fight for their concerns together with the other villagers and to mobilize government resources for these causes.
The realization of this law in practice is a great challenge. Deep-rooted, patriarchal and feudal structures frequently stand in the way. Moreover, it takes some time for women to grow into their new role. It is, for instance, a new experience for Indian women to raise their voices at a political meeting – this takes courage.
In a world dominated by men there are small chances for these women in the panchayats to accomplish their concerns, - for instance better nutrition, education, health, pure water, measures to secure an income - without appropriate training and support.
The Hunger Project attaches great importance to the participation in decision-making of these over one million women in politics on a regional and
nationwide level. We consider this to be a decisive step in the struggle against chronic hunger and poverty.
Therefore, The Hunger Project concentrates on empowering women in India in the bodies of local self-government, the panchayats.
This work has four strategic cornerstones:
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"In the local VCA (Vision-Commitment-Action)-Workshops of THP, the majority of participants are women and they become empowered to lead their lifes independently, to take action and to influence their communities as self-responsible members. As such, they jointly find their own ways out of chronic hunger and external material dependence. THP joins this process locally, where the people are at home."
Therese Gerber-Fürst, Management Consultant, has been supporting THP for more than 10 years