Sir Syyed Education Social Welfare Society runs Mahila Panchayat programme at Welcome J.J. Cluster North-East District of Delhi. The programme is supported by Delhi Commotion for Women, Govt. of Delhi. With the help of the Delhi Commission for Women, the Mahila Panchayat is an initiative taken for distress redressal at the community level. Groups of community women, elected by NGOs, constitute a Panchayat in their area to address local grievances, counsel the two parties, and establish harmony in the community. A Panchayat constitutes one coordinator and four paralegal workers who are trained in legal rights and laws pertaining to women. They are trained to handle sensitive cases and counsel women in distress. Legal awareness and the formation of Mahila Panchayats is another initiative taken for the empowerment of women. These Mahila Panchayats offer crisis intervention and legal aid at the community level and help tackle local-level legal disputes and assist in the reduction and reconciliation of violence against women.
How Mahila Panchayats (MPs) are formed and how they function.
Delhi Commission for Women has promoted the setting up of Mahila Panchayats. Mahila Panchayats is an innovative collective approach for community participation in dispute redressal. After need assessment and motivation, community leaders are identified and these women are then motivated to volunteer as Mahila Panchayat Members. The 20 MPs members are trained in legal issues, dispute redressal mechanisms, trained in the laws relevant to crimes against women, and given exposure to the existing legal position regarding property, maintenance, marriage, custody, etc. They are also given training in counseling, FIR writing, pursuing with the police station, and how to proceed for legal recourse. They find solutions at the local level through the workers in the field themselves. they link up with lawyers and issues which cannot be resolved at the Mahila Panchayat level are either resolved by the lawyers or an alternative course of action is determined in consultation with the lawyers and Delhi Commission for Women.
Mahila Panchayats have started taking cases and resolving them at the community level. These cases pertain to bigamy, maintenance, domestic violence, alcoholism, and other issues. In most cases, Panchayats have been able to resolve the cases at their own level. In some cases, they had to take joint action to bring pressure on the men concerned so as to obtain redressal for the women complainants.
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