The country’s first-ever girl Panchayat, “Balika Panchayat”, which was started in several villages of Gujarat’s Kutch district, aims to promote the social and political development of the girls and ensure their active participation of girls in politics.This is a unique initiative of the Women and Child Development Welfare department of the Gujarat Government under the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ campaign. It started in Kunaria, Maska, Motagua, and Vadsar villages of the Kutch district. The Ministry of Women and Child Development is also planning to begin the girl panchayat across the country.
“Balika Panchayat” is managed by people in the 11-21 age group and its main objective is to promote the social and political development of the girl child and to remove the evil practices from the society such as child marriage, and the dowry system. Garba Bharti, a member of the Balika Panchayat from Kutch, said, “Balika Panchayat is a panchayat of girls between the age of 10 and 21 years, whose main objective is that the girls should get their nominations done in the Panchayat`s decision-making process and are active in politics since childhood.”
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Garba Bharti said, “On Women’s Day, we talked to Union Minister Smriti Irani if this work initiative is taken across India then other girls like us can also perform well. For the last one-year ‘Balika panchayat’ is running in our village”. 20-year-old Urmi Ahir, who has been named the sarpanch of the Balika Panchayat, said, “A new initiative has been started in Kutch under Beti Bachao Beti Padhao. The main objective of panchayat is that the girls should move forward in politics. In Balika panchayat, the member is nominated just like Gram panchayat.”
“The girls of the village who cannot come out, cannot get an education. So, the girl panchayat has been created to help them. I am the sarpanch, they come to me with their questions and I solve them and if I am not able to solve then the gram panchayat solve it. For example, if a girl is a dropout of school and her parents are not letting her out, then we explain to her parents and send that girl again for education,” said Urmi Ahir.
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