“If I didn’t leave, I would have got married” Bihar Panchayat candidate Priyanka

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“When I reached 8th standard, there was talk of my marriage, but I did not want to get married,” says Priyanka, a candidate from Sitamarhi, Bihar panchayat.

“When I reached 8th standard, there was talk of my marriage, but I did not want to get married,” says Priyanka, a candidate from Sitamarhi, Bihar panchayat.
In today’s time it is talked about that girls are getting equal opportunities now but the ground reality is completely opposite to this. Even today, in villages and towns, women have to fight for their rights because the society considers women only after successful marriages.
The story of Priyanka, who belongs to Bishanpur Gonahi Panchayat of Sonbarsa block of Sitamarhi district of Bihar, is also similar. Today, even though Priyanka is standing as a candidate from her village in the Bihar Panchayat elections, the challenges for her are no less.
In a conversation with him, Priyanka said, “I am from a very normal family. I loved to study from the beginning but there were neither government schools nor private in the village. At that time some people used to give tuitions around, where I used to read tuitions so that alphabets could be learned.
The family members were not going to spend much money in studies because we start collecting money for dowry from the birth of girls. In such a situation, paying the tuition fee was too big. When I reached 8th standard, at that time there was talk of my marriage in my house but I did not want to get married.
I told this to my elder brother Vishal, after which he supported me. They got me admitted in the adjoining city, from where I completed my 10th standard.”

Image: Working in the village
I was the first girl in my village who passed 10th class
She adds, “I was the first girl in my village to pass the 10th standard, that too from the first division. After getting good marks in the exam, my spirit got boosted. After that in the year 2013, I came to Delhi with my brother and from here I did my 11th and 12th exams.
One day when I was reading India Today magazine, I saw the list of colleges in it. In that I saw the name of Miranda House. Seeing the name, I started wanting to study there, after which I told my brother.
At that time my brother said that the cutoff of this college is very high so it is difficult to get admission here. My mind got a little sad due to his words but I applied.
First merit list passed, second, third also passed and finally my name appeared in fourth merit list. After that I took admission in Philosophy subject there.

Image: Mass interaction during ‘Chetna Choupal’ event
Why can’t I become the sarpanch of my village?
Regarding the journey of DU, Priyanka says, “It was also a dream for me to take admission in Miranda House, which encouraged me a lot but after the different atmosphere there, I had to face some problems.
One day when I was sitting with my brother and discussing my journey, my brother told me about Chhavi Rajawat of Rajasthan, who is the sarpanch of Soda village in Jaipur and also studied by Lady Shri Ram of Delhi. Completed college.
After listening to his words, I felt that his story is also similar to mine, so why can’t I become the sarpanch of my village?
After that I read and understood more about Panchayat. In that too, especially Gandhi’s Kalpana Gram Swaraj impressed me a lot. Now a dream had come to my mind that I had to go to the village and do something big, but now there was a ruckus about how we would move towards this dream. In the meantime, took admission in Masters in the year 2017.

Seeing me moving forward, my mother encouraged me
Talking about her journey ahead, Priyanka says, “In the year 2017, I got the opportunity to participate in the Gramya Manthan program on behalf of Youth Alliance, for which I got the opportunity to go to Ahmedabad. Even at that time there was pressure from the family members that now the girl should get married, but seeing me moving forward, my mother encouraged me.
There I learned about Panchayat and politics and also shared my experience with the people. After that in the year 2018, I again got an opportunity to be a part of teamwork in Kanpur, where I expressed my wish that I should be allowed to stay in Kanpur for two years so that I can do something for the people by staying in the village.
There I was given the responsibility of Gangadin Nibada, Kharagpur, Badi Palia and Chhoti Palia villages. During my stay there, I took forward the process of interacting with people, raising voice for better classroom arrangements for children, started a project called Sham ki Pathshala, developed a community library for children and created an eye for the people. Camp was set up for the operation. All these things as easily as I am speaking now, it was as difficult as I was a girl.
Well, after working there, it was now time to return to the village. After that on 27th April 2020, I finally decided to contest the Panchayat elections and by the end of June 2020, my steps had fallen in my village. Now I have been working in my village for almost a year.

Image: Dialogue on Panchayati Raj Act in a village of Bishanpur Gonahi Panchayat
For what power a girl will hold, making bread is the right thing to do.
Meanwhile, I also asked Priyanka about her challenges, to which she said, “I am contesting this time, but before me, there is only one woman who is a chief, whom no one knows. Even his name is not known to anyone because even now the headship is dominated by the husband or any other male.
Society feels that what power a girl will take, for this, making roti is the right thing to do. These things have surrounded women so much that they have forgotten their rights. Our village does not even have a PHC-sub-centre primary hospital. If seen, the problem is innumerable, which needs a lot of improvement.
At present we have four people in our team, out of which Alok and I are running the Chetna Choupal program under the citizen organization Gram-Chetna-Andolan. This is our two-day program, in which we go from village to village and work to make people aware.

The seat may be won by a woman but the power lies in the hands of the man closest to that woman.
Priyanka, the candidate of Bihar Panchayat, is all set for her new innings. Regarding her future strategy, she said, “Women have to be made aware of issues like toilets, menstruation. At the same time, we also have to fight malnutrition among children. The face of the village has to be changed so that the exodus of men can also stop.
Today women are moving ahead in every field but politics has always been a field where the dominance of men has always prevailed. Although the government has taken steps to increase the participation of women in politics, which has improved the situation to some extent, but going to the bottom it is known that even though a woman has won the seat, the power is in the hands of the man closest to that woman. It just happens.
In order to increase the participation of women in politics, the Bihar government has implemented 50 percent reservation. Right now the wave of Panchayat elections is in full swing in Bihar and various representatives have also entered the electoral fray, including women. In the past also, women stood up in the Panchayat elections and held various posts in the Panchayat, but the influence of men was visible on their tenure.
Now if more women like Bihar Panchayat candidate Priyanka come forward, then improvements will be seen at the grassroot level as well because it is our responsibility to interview women with their lost power.

Saumya Jyotsna

Owner of Unheardboys
Also received UNFPA Laadli Media Award for Gender Sensitivity 2020

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