At the UN meeting, the inspiring voices of India’s female panchayat leaders are heard.

May 4, New York (IANS) Three eminent grassroots leaders took center stage on Friday at the Side Event titled “Localising the SDGs: Women in Local Governance in India Lead the Way,” as the moving tales of India’s elected women representatives of the Panchayati Raj institutions reverberated throughout the UN Headquarters’ hallowed halls.

The experiences and innovations of Supriya Das Datta from Tripura, Kunuku Hema Kumari from Andhra Pradesh, and Neeru Yadav from Rajasthan were exchanged regarding local governance and the advancement of the localization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across various themes.

These included encouraging health, education, opportunities for livelihood, and environmental sustainability in addition to opposing child marriage.

The trio’s descriptions of the difficulties and obstacles they encountered along the way as leaders serve as prime examples of the transformational potential of grassroots leadership.

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

The event was inaugurated by Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj, who emphasised India’s distinctive Panchayati Raj system as a model of direct democracy and decentralised power that encourages active citizen participation.

India’s experience with the Panchayati Raj system is a story of empowerment, inclusivity, and advancement, she said, especially emphasizing the advancements made in women’s leadership, with over 1.4 million elected women representatives.

The careful alignment of local planning procedures with the SDGs, with a particular emphasis on addressing women’s issues, was another point that Ambassador Kamboj emphasized.

According to Secretary in the Ministry of Panchayati Raj Vivek Bharadwaj, empowering women at the local level is essential to India’s progress.

He also emphasized the creative ways that Panchayati Raj institutions have used technology to further development and to ensure economic empowerment through policy interventions; he gave examples such as the Central government’s “Drone Didi” and “Lakhpati Didi” initiatives.

Keynote speakers at the event included UNFPA representatives, such as Pio Smith, Regional Director for Asia Pacific, and Andreas Lovold, Deputy Permanent Representative of Norway to the UN.