A woman Sarpanch and her all-women team have shattered stereotypes and broke the glass ceiling in Khambha village near Lodhika, Rajkot. The Panchayat is the primary level of self-governance in India and, Sarpanch Annapurna Jadeja and her team of eight women, are becoming the trailblazers in bringing about long-awaited changes in their village.
A small hamlet near Lodhika, Khambha village has a population of roughly 1300 people and to date, there has never been an election in the village. Ever since independent India was formed the village has never conducted elections to elect a Sarpanch or form a panchayat. They have always practised electing members by word-of-mouth. As per Jadeja, all the castes in the village are together, and so there never is a war when it comes to electing a leader.
For four years, the team of nine women, led by Jadeja have provided Khambha village facilities that small towns of big districts achieve. After failing to achieve, even the basic amenities and facilities for their village, villagers decided to hand over the administration and governing matter to the women of the village. Jadeja was elected as the uncontested woman Sarpanch of Khambha village. Villagers selected eight more women who are currently working under Jadeja’s leadership to transform their village.
A primary problem of the village was that of water and sanitation. As soon as the women came to power, they ensured water reached the houses via tube wells. They also built a sewerage system, which is 100 per cent underground.
Another task at hand was bridging the gap between their village and the nearest town. Jadeja and her all-women team ensured that 90 per cent of the roads in the village, got paved making commuting easier for all. Houses in Khambha village also got toilets built inside every house, thus negating the embarrassment women would otherwise face, when visiting the nearby forest or farm for their daily chores.
Just like any other town with a public garden, Khambha village got a garden. Villagers are working on planting 100 trees to make it comfortable for village folk to sir and relax. Jadeja has formed a group with the name Mahila Sakhi Mandal, where members of the Mandal discuss the benefits of all the schemes received from the government.