Sondhya Maity Gram Panchayat Pradhan, (Shibaganj) West Bengal
In 2009, Cyclone Aila ravaged and destroyed huge parts of Sondhya Maity’s village. It was while working on relief efforts that Sondhya realised that she wanted to help people in need. 39 year old Sondhya is today the Gram Panchayat Pradhan of Dokshin Shibaganj village in West Bengal
Jaya Baruah (Jorhat), Assam
When Jaya Baruah first stood for elections in 2001, she faced the harsh reality of being a woman in rural India. The number of people who mocked and doubted her abilities just because she was a woman seemed to increase with every passing day. But this did not in any way deter Jaya. Instead it strengthened her resolve to change things for the better.
Navli Redwa Ward member, (Sirohi) Rajasthan
Navli Redwa is a 25 years old ward member from Redwakla village in Sirohi district, Rajasthan. But her age belies her experience. This feisty girl stood for elections for the first time in 2010 and has achieved so much in a matter of a few years.Navli describes herself as a ‘12th pass simple girl’ who wanted to work for the betterment of villagers and ‘provide them with a better place to live’.
Multohar Batti (Jaisalmer)Rajasthan, Sarpanch
Multohar Batti has no idea of how technology or computers can help her. She has a mobile phone, has seen a computer but never used one because the nearest centre is more than 4 kilometres away. And yet, this 45 year old sarpanch from Jaisalmer in Rajasthan is one of the most progressive leaders in the area.Educated only till Class III, Multohar has ensured that her daughters are both graduates.
Jesu Mary (Mychael Pattanam)Tamil Nadu, Sarpanch
“I want to remove illiteracy,” says a determined Jesu Mary. She is the sarpanch from Mychael Pattanam village in Tamil Nadu and is passionate about her goal because of her own experiences. As a child, her family experienced tough times financially. To tide over it, they sacrificed Jesu’s education and got her married at a very young age.Today Jesu is 54 years old and has received several awards for her work in the area.
Bhumita Kundalik (Chirchadi) Maharashtra, Sarpanch
Bhumita Kundalik Gavrane could not complete her education beyond Class VIII. And yet, this 38 year old woman who used to “sustain herself by doing some labour work in her farm” is today a sarpanch. At the helm of affairs in Chirchadi village Maharashtra, Bhumita even today feels that people disrespect her because she is a woman.
Jambati Kerar (Phoolbun) Madhya Padesh, Sarpanch
Jambati Kerar studied only till Class III. Today, at 50 years of age, she is serving her third consecutive term as the sarpanch from Phoolbun village in Madhya Padesh. Perhaps that is why she is using her position to ensure that her village has more schools with easy accessibility and quality teachers.Jambati describes herself very simply. “I live with my husband. We have three children. My husband and I also do farming”. But for the villagers, Jambati has achieved a lot and considerably improved the quality of their lives.
Anita Devi (Gatalsud) Jharkhand, Sarpanch
Anita Devi was only two years old when elections were last held in her district. Today, as the sarpanch from Gatalsud village in Jharkhand, she is the first person to hold an elected post after 36 years. And yet Anita says she is much more than this. She sometimes works as a tailor and has even trained others in tailoring. She is involved in farming. And she runs her household and looks after her two teenage sons.
Suhangana Paradhan (Pimpalgaon) Maharashtra, Sarpanch
Ask Suhangana Paradhan her occupation and she proudly says that she is a sarpanch and a farmer. She wears both hats with pride and is the first female sarpanch of Pimpalgaon village in Maharashtra at 28 years. Growing up in her village she knew the problems that the common man had to face. She also realised that people in authority were doing nothing to make a difference.
Kumari Preeti Kiran Rao Shambharkar, (Vihirgaon)Maharashtra Block Panchayat President
It reads like a superhero story. Kumari Preeti Kiran Rao Shambharkar successfully completed her medical exam in one and half hours. Then she went and filled the nomination papers for election in 2010. All this while her family and friends were unaware of what she was up to.29 year old Preeti is the Block Panchayat President of Vihirgaon in Maharashtra.