Rajwanti Singh, India
Rajwanti Singh refused to accept a lesser status in life. Now, this Indian woman is a highly respected leader in her community and has big plans for the future. Watch (and share!) her amazing story.
“At the first meetings of the panchayat (village council), I sat quietly in a corner ,” Rajwanti Singh (42) explains , but her leadership in the panchayat was the enthusiastic beginning of a strong female leader who has achieved a lot in a short time, not only for herself, but for her community.
After Rajwanti was married she moved to Posta, a village with 230 inhabitants in the state of Madhya Pradesh. She had six children. Rajwanti became the first woman elected in the panchayat. Under Indian law, 50% of the town councillors must be women.
After her election in 2009 she came in contact with The Hunger Project and began a five-year Leadership Training Programme. The training led to a turnaround in her personal development. “My development as a woman and as a leader gained momentum. I became more active and started to believe in myself. I don’t feel like a village councillor, but a great leader, like the Prime Minister! I got the feeling that I’m worth as much as another. “
Driven, she talks about her ambitions: “I want to continue to develop myself and prove that I am a good leader. And I’m not less than a man. Female leaders are different than men. I want to show male leaders that we look further, have foresight. In fact, I want to do what men cannot.”
Rajwanti is not only councillor in her panchayat, but also president of two federations of female leaders at a higher level than the village level. Rajwanti brought women from different panchayats and districts together to ‘block’ level. And she was elected president of the Women’s Federation at the state level. “Together we are strong. An individual can be destroyed, but not a block.”
In India, women are second-class citizen. In countless ways, they are disadvantaged and often mistreated. Rajwanti’s eyes dart fire as she says: “Life is difficult for women. If they run out, they are attacked, restrained or just molested by men. They are not free to come and go and work wherever they want. They do not have their hard earned money and are not always safe even at home. Women are stigmatised. ”
The biggest obstacles to women leaders are men, the biggies as she calls them. “These men are afraid and jealous of what we can achieve. With the strength of our federation, we can make it clear to these men that women have rights. Nobody can say that I cannot do something because I’m female. And when they get in the way, I will sue them. To the highest magistrate”
As a Councillor Rajwanti focuses on a national job guarantee scheme, a fund for the disabled and the fight against malnutrition. She is committed to improving the position of the dalits. She also advises other female leaders in the area
“I am happy and proud that I contribute to change. As an elected female leader, I see myself as an agent of change. Even if my work stops as town councillor, I will keep going. Someone has to take the lead. My deepest wish is that other women with the courage and capabilities are able to progress in their lives. My story should be an inspiration to others. That is my deepest desire. ”
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