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Inspiring voices of India’s women panchayat leaders resonate at UN meet

New York, May 4 (IANS) The inspiring stories of India’s elected women representatives of the Panchayati Raj institutions resonated in the hallowed halls of the United Nations Headquarters as three iconic grassroots leaders took the centre stage on Friday at the Side Event titled ‘Localising the SDGs: Women in Local Governance in India Lead the Way’.

Supriya Das Datta from Tripura, Kunuku Hema Kumari from Andhra Pradesh, and Neeru Yadav from Rajasthan shared their experiences and innovations in local governance and advancing the localization of sustainable development goals (SDGs) in many thematic areas.

These ranged from combating child marriages to promoting health, education, livelihood opportunities, and environmental sustainability.

The trio exemplified the transformative power of grassroots leadership as they articulated the challenges and struggles they faced and overcame in their journey of leadership.

The Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations and the Ministry of Panchayati Raj jointly organized the Side Event in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) at the UN Headquarters Secretariat Building in New York.

Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj set the tone for the event, highlighting India’s unique Panchayati Raj system as a beacon of decentralized power and direct democracy that facilitates active people’s participation.

With more than 1.4 million elected women representatives, India’s journey with the Panchayati Raj system is a narrative of empowerment, inclusion, and progress, particularly highlighting the strides made in women’s leadership, she said.

Ambassador Kamboj also emphasized the meticulous alignment of local planning processes with the SDGs, with a special focus on addressing women’s issues.

Vivek Bharadwaj, Secretary in the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, said that empowering women at the grassroots level is playing a pivotal role in the advancement of India.

He also highlighted the innovative approaches taken by the Panchayati Raj institutions in leveraging technology for development and policy interventions to ensure economic empowerment, citing examples like the ‘Drone Didi’ and ‘Lakhpati Didi’ initiatives of the Central government.

The event witnessed keynote speakers including Deputy Permanent Representative of Norway to the United Nations, Andreas Lovold, and representatives from UNFPA, including Pio Smith, UNFPA Asia Pacific Regional Director.

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