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Women’s Political Empowerment Day
Women’s Political Empowerment is another area where the Institute has taken the initiative to organise annual convention of Elected Women Representatives of local government institutions. With the advocacy of the Institute along with civil society organisations, political leaders, thinkers, and academics, the 33 per cent reservation for women in all three tiers of local government became a constitutional mandate. On April 24, 1994 the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution came into effect. With it also came into effect the historic political empowerment of women, with the mandatory requirement that one-third of all elected members and panchayat functionaries will have to be women. The ISS declared this day as a victory for women’s empowerment. To celebrate this historic achievement, the Institute began the Women’s Empowerment Day celebration in 1994. Shri Shivraj Patil, the then Speaker of Lok Sabha and Shri Biju Patnaik, then Chief Minister of Orissa, delivered the inaugural address at the first convention. Thereafter, the Institute has been observing every 24th April as Women’s Empowerment Day with 500-1000 elected women panchayat leaders attending from all over the country. A specific theme, out of the 29 subjects included in the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution which have been devolved to panchayats or a relevant theme which has been announced by the government for that year, is selected for the deliberations.

Various departments of the Union Government and United Nations agencies have come forward to support this annual feature. Sharing of experiences of Elected Women Representatives across the country has taken place on themes such as health, primary education, poverty, family welfare, women’s economic empowerment, food security, birth registration, water and sanitation, and HIV/AIDS.

The noted Social Scientist Mr. Ashish Bose wrote in Economic and Political Weekly (August 19, 2000), “The Director of ISS, deserves full credit for conceiving the idea of celebrating April 24 as ‘Women’s Empowerment Day’ because it was on this day that the 73rd Amendment to the Constitution which reserved one-third of the membership of PRIs for women, became operational – a historic day indeed. Ever since 1994, ISS has been organizing two-day meetings every year to make women ‘panches’ and ‘sarpanches’ aware of their rights and duties enshrined in the Constitution”.

Following is the list of themes on which the proceedings of the Women’s Political Empowerment Day celebrations held so far.
Themes of Women’s Political Empowerment Day Celebrations So Far
Sl. No. Year Theme
1. 1994 24th April 1994, Thirty Three Percent Reservation for Women in Panchayats came in to effect
2. 1995 Women and Political Empowerment
3. 1996 Panchayats, Women and Health
4. 1997 Panchayats, Women and Primary Education
5. 1998 Panchayats, Women and Poverty Eradication
6. 1999 Panchayats, Women and Family Welfare
7. 2000 Gram Sabha and Women
8. 2001 Panchayats and Women's Economic Empowerment
9. 2002 Panchayats, Women and Food Security
10. 2003 Ten Years of Women’s Political Empowerment
11. 2004 Ten Years of Women’s Political Empowerment
12. 2005 Panchayats and Child Rights Birth Registration as the First Right to Identity
13. 2006 Panchayats, Water and Sanitation
14. 2007 HIV and AIDS: Women and Role of Panchayats
15. 2008 Women Panchayats and Child Rights
16. 2009 Climate Change, Women and Role of Panchayats
17. 2010 To End Violence against Women and the Role of Panchayats
18. 2011 Panchayats, Women, and Safe Drinking Water
19. 2012 Panchayats Women and Health for All
20. 2013 Panchayats, Rights and Survival of the Girl Child
21. 2014 Panchayats Women and Right to Food.
22. 2015 Violence against Women: Role of Panchayats
The Reports of the Proceedings, both in Hindi and English, are available and you may contact ISS Library for the same.
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