|Determined Ashubi Khan, 47, decided to include only women in her panchayat
Photo: TARUN SEHRAWAT
Connected Neemkheda village to the inter-state Ujina canal. Tap water to reach the village soon
Primary school upgraded to secondary school. Enrolment shot up from 97 to 800
Built a pucca road, primary health centre, girls’ junior school and 72 toilets
‘Men Misruled For 17 Years’
Sarpanch Ashubi Khan, on managing a women’s brigade in a jungle of patriarchy
Why did you ask for an all-woman panchayat in your village?
I had never stepped out of the house all my life. Suddenly, I was expected to preside over a team of 10. Wasn’t this the logical solution?What was the response to your decision to only include women?
Villagers lampooned me. Some said, “Bahut advance ban rahi hai.” [She is trying to be too ‘advanced’.] But the women were thrilled. The older ones were most supportive. One said to me, “My son is an alcoholic and wastes my entire income. Now you set him right.” For the male panchayat members, alcoholism did not merit punishment. For us, it became the number one crime. Now no alcoholic in Neemkheda gets home-cooked food.
Male panchayts did not punish alcoholics. But now, no drunkard gets home-cooked food
How do you rate the work of your panchayat compared to those that the men ran earlier?The men ruled the village for 17 years. They never called meetings. Funds were misutilised for organising gigs and fairs. Now, we have regular weekly meetings where we proceed according to a priority list.
How seriously do the men take your work?The onus lies on us to prove ourselves. We take our work seriously. So when we are in a meeting, we don’t break away to cook food or answer our husbands’ summons. They mock us, but we aren’t bothered.
From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 7, Issue 07, Dated February 20, 2010