Subject: The Daughters of the 73rd Amendment
Posting Date: 28 Sep 01
Author(s): Dr. Bidyut Mohanty of the Institute for Social Sciences, New Delhi
Today I am going to present before you, the impact of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992, which not only gave a new lease of life to the panchayat system of India but also ensured at least 33 per cent of the total seats at the three tiers of local governments–both rural and urban areas for women including those of the functionaries. Three tiers of panchayats are Gram panchayat at the village level, Block panchayat at the block level, and District panchayat.
The 73rd Amendment has created an opportunity for large number of rural women to take part in the public institutions. Democracy has become more participatory in the process of implementing it. In many places, women have been functioning well and have engendered the development process, although in a limited sense. The family has accepted the new role and even the relationship between husband and wife has been altered. The myth of being a proxy woman gets disproved, according to my study. The husband-wife relationship has become relatively more egalitarian. This has led to a mobilization of rural women to a great extent. They are becoming restless.
The elected women prove to be the role model for the village women. Thus we find that the 73rd Amendment has an empowering impact on the women. And I would like to argue that in a context where women’s labor is still marginalized and the rural hierarchies remain unchallenged to a large extent, the entry of women into politics in such a big way is in itself a radical change. Despite the constraints, they are playing an extremely important role, which needs to be recognized.
The constraints are many. The panchayats are still resource-starved. There are many parallel institutions like the Water Harvesting Committee and Janmbhumi program which by- pass panchayats easily. The Lines Departments control their own budgets. Even now half of the women are illiterate and their economic contributions don’t get acknowledged. But a good beginning has been made to achieve the long-neglected gender justice.
To read the full paper, please download the attached file.
Attached file: Dr. Mohanty’s report