First Time Dalit Women headed a User Committee

First Time Dalit Women headed a User Committee

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Prepared by : Mrs. Punna Kumari Kunwar (SUSASAN Project)

The SUSASAN project has been working in Achham district since April 2017 with two local governments; Sanphebagar municipality and Bannigadhi Jayagadh rural municipality. The project aimed to increased empowerment of women and men, girls and boys, and marginalized groups, to engage in democratic processes, and enjoy and exercise their human rights. To achieve this aim, the project has been supporting to the local government and the citizens on capacity building through training, coaching and mentoring by using integrated technology. Aso the SUSASAN is assisting to the local governments in building their capacity.

As usual, Sanphebagar municipality prepared the annual budget and program of 2018/19 but without participation of woman and marginalized groups. Almost all program and budget of local government were prepared from as per the interest and participation of elites and political leaders. So, all the user committees were captured by elites particularly male and representative of political leaders, just for formality women were included in signatory. Representatives of Woman and Marginalized Groups (WMGs) were generally uninformed or not invited to participate in the major processes of the events like budget planning, user committee formation, implementation and monitoring of activities etc.

After the SUSASAN project intervention, the local government and citizen have been understand slowly about the significance of civic engagement specially participation of WMGs in development process and decision making. Through the training, coaching and mentoring, the WMGs have been gaining knowledge on their entitlements and rights ensured by constitution, Act and policies such as local government act 2074 and users committee formation, mobilization and management guideline 2075 ect. Out of 30 CSOs working with SUSASAN, Kalika group Sanphebagar Ward-4 is one of them. The members of this group have been participating the training, coaching and mentoring events organized by SUSASAN regularly. It has supported them to boost up their morality and empowerment. It is proved from a case User Committee formation and selection of committee chair in Saphebagar ward-4.

The case is: User Committee formation for the construction of trail "Tamattidada Goreto Bato Nirman" in Dalit village with the cost of Rs. 100 thousand. In the committee formation process many men claimed the post of chairperson but the women members of Kalik group raised the voice strongly that the user committee chair must be from women otherwise women will oppose the implementation of this project. The men undermined the leadership of women, however, a Dalit woman Ms. Ganga Tamata proposed here candidacy for the chair and expressed here commitment to do the best in compare to male. After a long discourse, finally, she got success to be a chairperson of the User Committee. This is the first time a woman become a chairperson of users committee in Achham.

Ms. Ganga Tamata said, "I will do my best and will show my ability by completing this work within the time frame assuring its quality."

Mr. Ratna Tamata, chairperson of Kalika group said, "Because of the SUSASAN project, the women of this group have empowered and being able to build trust with local government. We know the rights of women and how do we support to the local government and make them accountable through this project."

Ms. Kitthi Tamata, member of Kalika group said, "Women were not informed or not given an opportunity of handling the program and budget before but now because of MDO/SUSASAN, we are empowered and getting new knowledge and finally we got success to hold this position of Chairperson in Use Committee.