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Empowerment still a dream for local body women leaders
Women’s empowerment continues to be just a word in the lexicon of the newly elected women leaders in the district as most of them are still overshadowed by their domineering husbands, officials have revealed.
As women constitute nearly 80 per cent of the 4,442 posts they now occupy, including that of village panchayat president, village panchayat ward member, district panchayat chairperson, ward members and panchayat union councillors, the district administration had to move into the coaxing mode to ensure that such women were allowed to function by themselves.
The district administration soon got a taste of male dominance when the newly-elected members arrived to greet and garland Collector KS Kandasamy. When a panchayat president tried to drape the Collector with a shawl, the latter asked who was the president and the man replied, “I am the panchayat president.”
Talking to DT Next, Kandasamy said, “I knew that if he was the panchayat president, he would not have brought his wife with him and so when I asked him again who the real panchayat president is, he pointed to the woman standing next to him and said that she is the elected president. Then, I had to literally take a class for a few minutes on women’s empowerment and also request the woman to have some independence in her official action.” And this is not an isolated case, he added. Asked if there was any change in the situation compared to the last time when husbands of elected representatives turned up for official meetings claiming that wives lacked the ability to officialise, Kandasamy replied, “I see no change; in fact they continue to dominate their wives and prefer to call themselves panchayat presidents.”
Asked if the administration planned any awareness campaign to empower them, Kandasamy said, “That is possible only if an elected woman leader complains. But, as none of them has resorted to this, we can only wait and watch. But, we understand that our workload will increase as not only will the elected female local body representatives lack knowledge of official issues, their husbands too will not allow them the independence they need to learn and function efficiently.”