More than 1000 women from self-help groups contested the kshetra (block) and zila (district) panchayat elections this year. Most of them were first-time candidates with no prior political experience. Four hundred of them won, fighting against all odds -- from threats, to mud-slinging, to family pressures, to acts of violence. Anyone who is familiar with the feudal, patriarchal context of Uttar Pradesh (especially vis-à-vis panchayat elections) will know this was no easy feat!
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