‘Aaideur Chora’ creates raves among the rural women of Assam in electoral participation

By Dr Rousy K Baruah

The maturity and efficacy of democracy in a country like India largely depends on the participation of women and their engagement in the electoral processes. This remains not only in terms of equality and freedom with men, but also in terms of liberty and space provided for women in the democratic framework of the electoral politics.

Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation program, better known as SVEEP, is the flagship program of the Election Commission of India for voter education, spreading voter awareness and promoting voter literacy in India. SVEEP’s primary goal is to build a truly participative democracy in India by encouraging all eligible citizens to vote and make an informed decision during the elections. 

As mark from the history of electoral participation in previous rounds of elections in Assam and learning thereof a major component of SVEEP, as Aaideur Chora for the recently held Lok Sabha Election 2019. “Aaideur Chora” was undertaken by the office of Chief Electoral Officer, Assam in collaboration with Assam State Rural Livelihood Mission (ASRLM). The objective was to remove the gender gap in polls and to sensitize rural women and identify Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) for accessing their ‘Ethical Vote’. 

Assam State Rural Livelihoods Mission (ASRLM) is a registered body under the Society Registration Act XXI of 1860 formed with the objective of improving the livelihoods of targeted households in order to change the economic scenario of rural areas of the State. ASRLM is targeting to mobilize the households, particularly the women, into an effective community-based organization.

In the last seven years of its existence, ASRLM has been able to reach out to over 24 lakh households in the remotest geographies of the State and firmly establish itself as an institution for the rural poor and reducing barriers to access for women. Besides strong Community-based Organizations in the form of Self-Help Group (SHG), Village Organization (VO) and Cluster Level Federation (CLF), ASRLM has developed around 4822 Jeevika Sakhis/Community Resource Persons from the community itself for continuous handholding of these SHG members.

“Aaideur Chora” initiative commenced with series of Orientations to district and block staff of ASRLM and concluded with orientations to Community cadres/Jeevika Sakhis. This followed with identification of ‘Village Ambassadors’ as ‘Chandraprabha Baideo’ amongst cadres/SHG members; who spread out the message of voter education and electoral participation among masses. More than 2870 Chandraprabha Baideo are relentlessly engaged in Aaideur Chora in every nook and corner of villages of Assam. 

More than 3100 massive Awareness Campaigns with postering and distribution of leaflets on Voting Rights amongst prospective voters especially targeting the women mass to the last mile possible held. The objective was to popularize ‘1950’ Helpline number and NVSP portal www.nvsp.in Electoral Literacy materials like forms, guidelines, rules, and regulations among female voters. The CEO designed and distributed Aaideur Hathputhi amongst Chandraprabha Baideos for first-hand information on other facilities introduced by CEO Assam. They also facilitated SHG members to the Help Desk positioned at GP Offices, Cooperative Societies, etc. to verify their names, go through electoral rolls and make corrections, if needed.

More than 2550 ‘Mahila Voter Rally’ organized Gram Panchayats/VCDC where more than 110880 women and 23000 elderly people sensitized. Around 11000 PWDs identified by the Chandraprabha Baideos uptill now.

Observing the massive response in rural areas, “Aaideur Chora” initiative had certainly been able to sensitize the women mass who definitely took part as a responsible citizen in the recently held Lok Sabha Elections in Assam by raising the overall voting percentage to 81.55% in 2019.

About the Author : Dr Rousy K Baruah has been working on the Social Sector for more than a decade. She is presently the State Project Manager with Assam State Rural Livelihood Mission (ASRLM).

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