The UN Women (United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women) and the Karnataka government on Wednesday signed a project cooperation agreement to empower elected women representatives and promote gender responsive good governance.
The agreement was signed between the department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (RDPR), government of Karnataka and the UN Women.
Later, speaking to reporters, Jagadish Shettar, minister for RDPR said, “There are a great demand for women to join politics at all levels of governance. To meet the aspiration, there is need for measures that would encourage women to actually contest elections. These steps would include steps to create more supportive legal frameworks, reduce the threat of violence against women in politics, promote economic empowerment and change patriarchal mindsets of the society in general.”
He said the ministry of Panchayati Raj, government of India and UN Women have signed a MoU for joint implementation of the programme in India. The programme is being implemented in six states like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Rajasthan.
Karnataka is the first state to implement the programme, he added. There are three main objectives of the programme - capacity building of elected women representatives at the gram sabha level; research and policy advocacy to address the legal and political issues pertaining to local self-governance; and evolution of a centre of excellence in the course of the programme. The programme will be launched in the district of Dharwad and Mysore on a pilot basis.
The Abdul Nazir Sab State Institute for Rural Development, Karnataka will function as the state-level nodal agency while UN Women will engage a district programme officer in each of the districts, to assist in the implementation of the programme.
Karnataka has been a frontline state in the area of decentralisation and local governance since the 1980s, with empowered zilla parishads (district councils) headed by senior govt officials and devolving all 29 functions to the panchayats since 2001.
Karnataka has also made strides in empowering women by interventions such as Hakku Patra, which mandate land rights in the name of women.
UN Women provides financial and technical assistance to innovative programmes and strategies to foster women’s empowerment and gender equality. Placing women’s security and human rights at the centre of its efforts, its programme strategy is designed and guided by an empowerment framework.