Capacity building for women PRI leaders

The Panchayati Raj Campaign, initiated by The Hunger Project, is a comprehensive programme to empower women leaders in panchayat to strengthen their participation in decision-making process.


The presence of women representatives in grassroots democracy has increased over the years because of affirmative action policies implemented by the government. However, representation is not synonymous with their participation. In a male-dominated political sphere, there is a wide-spread scepticism in trusting the capability and effectiveness of women leaders as rural women are percieved to be incapable of discharging the constitutional responsibilities. To address this concern, in 2001, the Hunger Project, a global strategic organisation designed a comprehensive capacity building programme called the Panchayati Raj Campaign.

Under Panchayati Raj Campaign, the Hunger Project collaborates with local civil society organisations, government bodies and the media to impart trainings through organising workshops and forming community federations. The participatory workshops that aim to inform women of their rights and responsibilities as panchayat leaders and federations facilitate bottom-up approach to development. These activities are carried throughout the entire five year term of the elected leaders. Each year a new skill is focused upon to ensure effective intervention.

Presently the campaign is operational in nine states, training more than 78,000 women representatives. One of the important achievement of this initiative is the formation of successful women leaders federations that have given a collective platform to make their voices heard at the bureaucratic and policy level. As the country that has the distinction of having the highest number of women leaders in the world, this all inclusive capacity building model can be considered as a suitable initiative to be replicated in all the states for ensuring gender justice and decentralised democracy.

This case study was published in October 2011.

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