FACILITATING WOMEN'S LEADERSHIP FOR GENDER EQUALITY IN PUNE, INDIA
Ganga Buke is an #EqualEverywhere gender champion working with 3D Program partner Chaitanya to support the implementation and scale-up of village convergence planning committees (VCPCs) in three villages of Khed taluka in India's Pune District. The VCPCs facilitate accountability by amplifying the voices of girls and women at the village level to ensure that their experiences of government programs and their priorities inform responses and planning by government at the block and district levels, and also provides a forum for members to discuss and solve issues in the community as they arise. The VCPCs create much-needed feedback loops between girls and women at the community level and decision-makers at the block and district levels, strengthening government programs and accountability.
Here, Ms. Buke shares about her work in partnership with the 3D Program, the impact of the VCPCs, and what motivates her commitment to supporting girls and women. (Video in Marathi; see transcript below for English translation.)
Transcript (English translation):
My name is Ganga Buke.
For the past 10 years, I have worked for Chaitanya, a non-governmental organization that works on girls’ and women's rights. I also work on convergence – to converge the efforts of civil society with that of local government. I got the opportunity to work on this issue through the 3D Program for Girls and Women. We are working in three villages in the Khed block of Maharashtra to form VCPCs or village convergence and planning committees.
These VCPCs have created a platform for girls and women to meet with local government officials to raise their problems, discuss them, and come up with solutions -- which is not possible for them to do through other existing committees.
I am motivated to do this work because by sharing a little bit of information, and creating this small intervention, we are able to solve many old and new problems. This small intervention has a big impact, and girls and women are involved in the process. The second thing is that women trust the VCPC process. Women from small villages participate in VCPC and contribute to the process. Problems get solved because of their efforts. The committee involves women, girls, men who are elected officials and representatives of government departments.
Previously, before the VCPCs, it was a challenge to mobilize women to participate in the gram sabha (regularly held village forums). They thought the gram sabha is not for them because they are women. But we helped them understand that they, too, as members of the village, are a part of the gram sabha. Initially it was difficult to convince them but slowly through their experience in the VCPCs they saw that it was possible to negotiate and discuss with local officials and then they believed that they could participate in the gram sabha.
Secondly, the timing of meetings was a challenge. The schedules of women and government workers are different – they didn’t match. So, it was difficult to set timings for the VCPC meetings to enable them to solve problems together. But we worked hard and coordinated the schedules to find a suitable time for meetings.
The impact of our work is that women trust the VCPC process, they participate fully and are willing to take the leadership to solve problems with government officials at the village and block level.
At present this process is going on three villages, and our goal is to establish VCPCs in many more villages.
Banner image taken October 2019 by the 3D Program for Girls and Women.