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Dice loaded against women representatives

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  7 Sep 2015 12:00 AM GMT

By our Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Sept 6: A recent survey in Assam shows that participation of women in grassroot governce in abysmally low.

In the 11 government schemes/ institutions/ bodies selected for the survey, women have higher representation than men only in two committees.

An average representation was noticed in three committees, while six of them had extremely poor representation of women. The survey was conducted by the NGO North East Network in 13 districts of the State - Darrang, Udalguri, gaon, Sonitpur, Golaghat, Karbi Anglong, Lakhimpur, Sivsagar, Dhemaji, Tinsukia, Kamrup (rural), Kokrajhar and Chirang.

While some states in the country have raised the reservation for women to 50 per cent, the overall figure for women's representation in the 26 Gram Panchayats (GPs) and Village Council Development Committees (VCDCs) surveyed is 38.8 per cent overall --- 49.35 per cent for GPs and only 10.46 per cent for VCDCs.

Women account for 19.8 per cent of the composition of Block Level Vigilance and Monitoring Committees (BLVMC).

The social audit committees of MGNREGA show that only 20.81 per cent of the committees assessing MGNREGA projects are women.

In the social justice committees for ensuring effective implementation of various rural developmental schemes in the rural areas, the representation of women is only 34.38 per cent, and only four out of 13 districts have formed the committees by choosing the members from GP or VCDC committees.

According to the Bureau of Police Research and Development's data of 2013, the number of women police in the State is 635 or 1.15 per cent of the total police force, and only 8.29 per cent are women police in the surveyed districts of the State. In addition to the low presence of women in the police force in the surveyed areas, the positions they hold are also in lower echelons like home guard and constable categories.

Village Defence Party (VDP) is an effective mechanism at the village level. However, the inclusion of women in VDPs is almost a non-issue. Though Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi announced a proposal for women's wing of VDPs to prevent crimes against women, only Kamrup (Rural) has a separate all-women VDP. There are no women representatives in VDPs in Lakhimpur, Sonitpur, gaon, Chirang, Golaghta, Darrang, Udalguri and Kokrajhar districts. The peace committees, which have been formed for preempting violence and promoting peace, have also low representation by women with only 2.38 per cent. Only Chirang district has a functioning peace committee with a total 42 members and only one woman.

Although membership drives are organized to include both women and men in the youth society and students' unions, gender disparity have been noticed in their executive bodies, barring women from decision-making roles. Only 16.53 per cent of the executive bodies of youth and students bodies are women and six districts do not have any women in the executive committee of these organizations.

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