Minister of Local Government and Regional Development Liv Signe Navarsete is in India from 10 to 13 January to follow up the partnership agreement between Norway and India on local administration and democracy. Strengthening the role of women in local politics is an important goal.
"More than one million women are represented in local politics in India, the world's largest democracy. Many of them can neither read nor write. Yet they play an important force for change and in local decision-making. It is important to help them receive good training when they start in politics," says Navarsete.
The Indian Government has submitted a proposal to amend the constitution and require at least 50 per cent representation by women in local politics. While several states have already implemented the 50 per cent rule in local government bodies, most still abide by the 33 per cent requirement.
"When women are guaranteed a place as locally elected representatives it provides an opportunity for change. But it is important that women acquire knowledge and skills about how they can best use this opportunity. For Norway's part, we are excited to contribute to this process through the UN organisation UN Women," says Navarsete.
In 2010 Norway started a development project to promote political leadership by women. The Indian government has become involved in the project with public partners in five states that are working with UN Women. The Norwegian government is supporting the project with NOK 60 million over a three-year period.
“Better training of popularly elected representatives and more women in political life can lead to significant social and economic changes in rural India and substantially boost the position of woman," says Navarsete.