“I have a dream to make my Panchayat a model Panchayat,” says Mrs. Agatha Bhengra, a citizen leader and champion of women’s rights in the village of Dorma in Kunti district (Jharkhand).
The 59-year-old, who belongs to Munda tribe, strives for justice for her community and stands for the rights of her village’s women. Known for being fearless, Agatha was a people’s choice in 2015 Panchayat (village council) election in Jharkhand. Today she works as the head of the Panchayat in Dorma.
Under the ‘Initiative for Transparent and Accountable Governance Systems in Jharkhand’, Agatha’s capacity has been built in areas such as micro planning, budget tracking and on roles and responsibilities of Panchayat leaders.
“The trainings have been immensely helpful,” she says. “I now make sure that all eligible residents of my Panchayat are enlisted and receive benefits under the pension schemes. I also monitor the performance of the service providing centres in my village.”
Her interest, however, lies in community-level micro-planning under MGNREGA (rural employment guarantee scheme). “Because this is directly linked to people’s livelihood and asset creation in the community for future sustainability,” says Agatha. She closely monitors the sanctioned work under the scheme and makes sure that it’s been implemented smoothly.
In last one and half years of her stint as a Panchayat leader, she has also ensured that all the standing committees under her village’s Panchayat (such as finance committee, development committee and sanitation committee) are in place and are functioning properly. Her aim is to make Dorma a model Panchayat and serve the community. “I’ve never felt restricted for being a woman from a rural background. I always encourage women from my village to cross the barriers and achieve your goals,” she says.
Some of her major achievements include:
- Linking of 150 widows to the social security scheme Pensions for 68 disabled people
of her community
- Successful completion of 130 dobha (water structure on farms) and 60 wells under
- Linking 208 people to the public distribution system under the National Food Security Act.
- She has recently been awarded from the district administration for making her village free
from ‘out-of-school’ children or ‘drop-out’ children.
Welthungerhilfe, along with its local partners Badlao Foundation, PRAVAH, NEEDS, LEADS and EKJUT is implementing the “Initiative for transparent and accountable governance systems in Jharkhand” in the four most backward districts: Khunti, Dumka, Pakur and Sahebganj. Through a multi-stakeholder approach, the European Union co-funded programme aims to enhance the capacities of public service providers and functionaries for better service delivery, transparency and accountability. The initiative also aims to empower local self-governance bodies for improved citizen participation, planning, management and monitoring of public services.