Engendering Grassroots Democracy: Research, Training, and Networking for Women in Local Self-Governance in India


Sekhon, Joti. 2006. “Engendering Grassroots Democracy: Research, Training, and Networking for Women in Local Self-Governance in India.” NWSA Journal 18 (2): 101–22. doi:10.1353/nwsa.2006.0041.

Author: Joti Sekhon


The author discusses efforts to promote women's effective participation in electoral politics in rural India as an illustration of feminist politics and participatory democracy. She argues that feminist rethinking of politics and democracy can catalyze women's effective participation and challenge the structures of patriarchy that limit political action and social mobility. The opportunity for women's widespread participation in local elections came as a result of the 73rd Amendment to the Indian Constitution in 1993, reserving 33 percent of elected seats in village councils for female candidates. That alone, however, is not enough, as women are limited by a variety of social, cultural, economic, and political factors, such as traditional gendered expectations of the role and position of women in the family and community, caste and class inequalities, lack of education, and lack of knowledge of the laws. In this article, the author analyzes the role of social movement organizations engaged in participatory action research, training, advocacy, and networking with and for women at the grassroots level. Detailed exposition of the work of Aalochana, a feminist organization in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, provides insight into the possibilities and challenges of feminist politics to engender grassroots democracy.

Keywords: feminist politics, grassroots democracy, participatory democracy, women in politics, women's community-based activism, women and political participation in India, women in panchayati raj or local self-governance in India, feminist networks, gender and grassroots politics

Topics: Caste, Class, Democracy / Democratization, Education, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Governance, Elections, Political Participation Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2006

© 2024 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.