With the announcement of Panchayti Raj elections in Uttar Pradesh, political and bureaucratic preparations have started. While contesting candidates, elections coommission, political parties all gear up for the coming elections, one constituency that is often ignored is the voter. It is lack of awareness and involvement of the voter in the democratic process which often results dominance of influential people, election of dummy candidates in reserved seats, and unfair electoral process. Another aspect that is often missing is the involvement and true participation of women, not only as electoral candidates but in various other roles (voter, agent etc).
For a functioning democracy, it is extremely important to ensure transparent electoral process and active participation from all sections of society especially women who form nearly half the electorate.
Therefore, with the objective of ensuring a transparent electoral process with active participation from women, three state wide networks/forums- Youth for Change (Y4C), Mahila Swasthya Adhikar Manch (MSAM) and Men’s Action for Stopping Violence Against Women (MASVAW) are launching a campaign ‘Humari Panchayat Humara Raj’ (Our panchayat our rule) in 72 blocks of 24 districts in Uttar Pradesh . The campaign will commence from 24th July, 2010 and end with the panchayat elections. The campaign will spread awareness about the importance of their vote, importance of electing a good leader and the need for community’s active participation in the election process. It will also try to make voters aware of various processes like voting, nomination, etc. The campaign will specifically focus on motivating women to participate as voter, candidate, agent and monitor the electoral process.
The campaign will in the duration of 2 - 2.5 months, conduct several activities at village, block and district level. This will include village level rallies, pamphlet distribution, wall writing and voter awareness sessions. These sessions will demonstrate the correct way to vote, file nomination etc. Also, the basis of candidate selection, and ‘essential qualities in our leader’ will be discussed.
An interesting feature of the campaign will be “Amna Samna” or dialogues between candidates and voters.
At Block level, help camps will be organized during nomination. These camps will be active on all three days of nominations and will provide help to people regarding basic information related to nominations.
Besides, in order to monitor the whole election process, district level Monitoring Committees will be formed. In case of any unfair, illegal or objectionable act taking place, these committees will immediately inform the concerned authorities of the departments about it.
State Election Commission has been informed about the campaign.
What the campaign hopes to achieve
The campaign will hope to create an environment where people are aware of their political rights. It will work to motivate the voters, especially women to actively monitor electoral process in their village and ensuring that candidates adopt fair means. It also hopes to encourage the community elect candidates who are truly deserving and efficient ,who not only understand the problems and needs of villagers but also work intensively to solve them commit to working for the community and not elect candidates on the basis of caste, class or ‘dummy candidates’. We will also make efforts to ensure that more efficient women contest the elections and all women voters participate in the election process as an aware voter and citizen.
MSAM- The Mahila Swasthaya Adhikar Manch is a forum of nearly 8000 rural, poor, dalit, tribal and Muslim women working in 10 districts of Uttar Pradesh.
Youth for Change – Youth for Change is a network of 2000 youth from rural and semi-urban areas (between 13-24 yrs) working for sexual and reproductive health and rights of youth in 9 districts of Uttar Pradesh. This network is also advocating for a Youth Policy in Uttar Pradesh.
MASVAW- Men’s Action for Stopping Violence Against Women is a network of organizations working with men to campaign against violence inflicted on women. It is currently functioning in 20 districts of Uttar Pradesh.
We hope that in our effort to work on ground realities for true grassroots democracy and mainstream women’s voices and issues we will get your support.
Name of the districts involved in the campaign are as follows:
Banda, Chitrakoot, Gorakhpur, Jhansi, Bareilly, Azamgarh, Siddharthnagar, Balia, Varanasi, Chandauli, Mirzapur, Kushinagar, Jaunpur, Muzzaffarnagar, Mau, Ghazipur, Lalitpur, Kaushambi, Mahoba, Allahabad, Hamirpur, Basti, Pratapgarh, Jalau
Humari Panchayat Humara Raj Abhiyan