Dinaben Dholu’s (Ludwa-Village)Gujarat, Sarpanch
Dinaben Dholu’s dreamt of becoming a sarpanch when she was just in Class V. It all started when the then sarpanch had come to her school for a flag hoisting ceremony. The event had such a deep impact on Dinaben that she dreamt of hoisting the national flag and figured the way to do this was to become a ‘sarpanch’. She fulfilled her dream in 2002 when she became the sarpanch of Ludwa village in Gujarat for the first time.
Bharti Senghani Panchayat member, Madhapur(Gujarat)
Unlike what one would expect, Bharti Senghani is technology savvy. This 40 year old panchayat member from Madhapur village in Gujarat uses her mobile phone “to communicate, for accessing social networking site and conferencing through internet.” She “surfs the net” and believes that computers can improve communication between people.
Premlata Nag (Dhamtari) Chattisgarh, Sarpanch
“Even a bad cook can become a great cook if she/he keeps trying,” says Premlata Nag in good humour, when asked about how much she had to struggle in her post as a sarpanch in Dhamtari district, Chattisgarh. 34 year old Premalata won the elections in 2010 for the first time. She lives with her husband and two daughters who are very proud of her achievements.
Maniben Sahibabhai Mavi, Mangal Mahudi (Gujarat), Sarpanch
Maniben Sahibabhai Mavi is illiterate. As a little girl, she watched her brothers go to school and attend classes. But she was not given the choice of getting an education. Simply because her parents did not think it educating a girl child would help them in any way.
Rina Gupta, Saranda (Jharkhand), Zila Parishad
“I knew my potential since childhood,” says the very confident Rina Gupta. At 30 years of age, she is a Zila Parishad member from Saranda village in Jharkhand. This self assured woman had an early start when she took a stand at home on issues that irked her. She protested when her sister-in-law was disowned by family members because of her dark complexion. She went out of her to make sure she was not ostracised and got her married with pride, without paying a dowry.
Sangeeta Kumar, Muding (Odisha), Sarpanch
Growing up in Muding village, Odisha, Sangeeta Kumar saw many families and friends leave the village in search of money and jobs. They moved to bigger cities and towns and to better lives. But in her village, it felt as if time stood still. Sangeeta is a harijan and even today, she says, “higher caste people do not like to sit or travel with me”. The fact that, at 35 years, she is the sarpanch of her village has done little to earn her respect and equality in her community.
Geetanjali Mishra, Chhira GP (Madhya Pradesh), Sarpanch
Geetanjali Mishra always dreamt of becoming a singer. Today, she is the sarpanch of Chhira GP in Madhya Pradesh. An M.A (LLB), this 38 year old smiles when asked about how far she has come from her dreams. Married at 17, a widow at 29; gutsy Geetanjali stood for elections first in 2005 at the persuasion of her husband. He believed that armed with her education, she would do a good job of improving the lives of people around her.
Badaam Bairwad , Luhara (Rajasthan), Sarpanch
“I stopped wearing a ghunghat”, proudly proclaims Badaam Bairwad, the 35 year old sarpanch of Luhara village in Rajasthan. Empowered by her current position, Badaam feels that a not wearing a ghunghat puts her on equal footing in an otherwise male dominated society. Thankfully, other women in her village are coming forward to support her in this decision.
Jhuma Mandol, Chowgheri (West Bengal), Pradhan
A high school teacher, Jhuma Mondol has herself learnt some amazing lessons as a pradhan in Chowgheri village in West Bengal. This 40 year old contested elections for the first time in 2013 and in this short time has learnt a lot about the best ways to solve various developmental problems. Her experience as a teacher helped Jhuma in mobilizing people for meetings and in public speaking. However, she quickly had to learn and unlearn things as a government official.
Harapriya Das, Bhadrak(Odisha), Sarpanch
In 1968, a young girl won the college elections for the post of Secretary. Since then, Harapriya Das, the 55 year old sarpanch of Geltua village in Odisha nurtured dreams of serving people. It was only when she stood for elections in 2010 at the insistence of fellow villagers that Harapriya realised her true potential. As a home maker before she stood for elections, Harapriya had lots of free time at her disposal.