A Synthesis of Research Findings from Select Districts in India There is growing momentum among governments and civil society to foster and ensure women’s participation and leadership in the political arena, and specifically within local governance structures. Establishing quotas for women’s representation at different levels of government has been a strategic tactic in achieving this goal in many countries. In India, the Constitution (73rd Amendment Act), enacted in 1992, mandated the reservation of a minimum of one-third of seats for women (both as members and as chairpersons) within all of India’s locally elected governance bodies commonly referred to as Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs). The amendment also entrusted panchayatswith the responsibility of furthering the agenda of economic development and social justice. The current study, conducted by The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), is part of UN Women’s programme titled “Promoting Women’s Political Leadership and Governance in India and South Asia”. It is a field-level exploration in three of UN Women’s programme districts, one each in the states of Rajasthan (Alwar district), Karnataka (Mysore district) and Odisha (Gajapati district). The overall aim of the study is to understand whether PRIs are gender responsive institutions where gender issues are raised and discussed. With a deliberate focus on the Gram Panchayat (GP) level, the study examines the factors that influence such discussions through an emphasis on the issue of domestic violence, one of the most pervasive and daily manifestations of gender inequity. The study findings are based on a survey with close to 3,000 elected women and men GP members and qualitative data on select themes collected from Sarpanches, members of Panchayat Samiti and Zilla Parishad and other stakeholders in the three select districts. This paper presents the synthesis of key findings across the three study districts on specific aspects of gender responsiveness of PRIs and highlights overall conclusion and recommendations.
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