Probing the Minds of Elected Women Representatives on Village Councils in India

An interesting paper from Samir Sathe, one of CEO Worldwide vetted C-level candidates

This paper aims to probe the minds of Elected Women Representatives (EWRs) , the harbingers of change in rural political governance in India. It explores the interrelationships between their own thoughts, emotions, and behaviours, as well as those of their families, Village Council (VC) members, and villagers. It describes the influence of these variables on the performance of EWRs. Based on action research, realist and critical ethnographic methods, including interviews with 120 EWRs in 19 districts, covering 100 villages, this paper unearths the following nine key themes:

(I) Family history in politics helps in being elected but does not necessarily influence the performance positively;

(II) Financial status enhances the chances of being elected to but does not necessarily influence the performance positively;

(III) Regions with abundant natural resources do not necessarily produce better performing EWRs;

(IV) Seven attributes of self-confidence, love, learning, authenticity, survival instinct, social engagement, and fairness have the most significant influence on the performance of EWRs;

(V) Performing EWRs see their leadership role in Village Councils as that of ‘mother-leaders’ of an extended family of villagers, while underperforming EWRs see it as a competing commitment, which conflicts with their role as homemakers;

(VI) Better performing EWRs tend to have positive gender and leader identity integration while underperforming ones experience identity conflicts;

(VII) Villagers are gender-neutral in their treatment of successful EWRs, but they show gender bias in their treatment of underperforming EWRs;

(VIII) Village Councils become transitional objects for EWRs seeking ‘freedom’ from their previous identities;

(IX) Successful EWRs see themselves as both, the instruments of change and the change itself. This paper also signals a need for the psychological transformation of EWRs, by proposing the idea of setting up ‘therapeutic communities’ in villages, to foster the attributes that significantly influence the performance of EWRs.

Open Insight Paper

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