The position of women in rural India is far from ideal and they don’t enjoy an equal status to men. In spite of these facts, there are a few women in the country, who have managed to not only elevate their status in the society,1 but have also given hope to other women to stand up for themselves. Meet five women Sarpanch of India:


Arati Devi

She is the sarpanch of Ganjam district in Orissa, her hometown. Nominated for the Rajiv Gandhi Leadership Award 2014, she was recently invited to the US to speak at the International Leadership Programme. Formerly an investment banker, she has taken many initiatives to improve the lives of the people living in the region. These include, starting of a women literacy camp and subsidizing wheat and kerosene prices.


Meena Behen

The first woman Sarpanch in Gujarat, Meena Behen also heads the first all-women panchayat board of the region. A self-help group, World Vision India is responsible for the sudden transformation in the women. Meena told Jaagore, “The saddest thing is that a lot of women too pointed fingers at us and constantly put us down…But I guess that would always be there…that is what kept us going and challenged us to do better everytime.” These same women now turn to the women panchayat for assistance.


Chaavi Rajawat

Rajawat is one of the most popular Sarpanchs in the country today. An MBA graduate, she left the comforts of the city life to help transform the face of rural India. Rajawat has launched many projects that have improved the roads, purified drinking water system and paved roads for better transportation, amongst other things.


[Picture Courtesy: Economic Times]

Sushma Bhadu

A Sarpanch from three villages in Haryana, she has been helping improve the sex-ratio of the state. She is also against veiling of the face: “With the backing of my mother-in-law and husband, I went against the grain and lifted my ghunghat amid 2,000 people from 25 neighbouring villages in June, 2012,’ she told Jaagore.


Radha Devi

Heading a village in Rajasthan, Radha Devi with others, helped thousands of young girls go to school. Even with the Right to Education Act, many children didn’t make it to schools. After confronting the authorities and convincing their parents, she was successful in her efforts and now all those children get their educational right.