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✊ Beyond Victims #2022 - India

We are excited to present this year's Beyond Victims Series.

Through this series, we are committed to move beyond victimising women in politics or seeing them as beneficiaries of reservation and rethink their role as change-makers and leaders from the grassroots to the top.

This year’s series will span eight editions, covering stories of inspiring women’s political leadership across South Asia.

This is our first edition on women political leaders in India.

From a grassroots leader mobilising an entire village to adopt preventive health vaccination to a tribal woman becoming the President of India. Find out more about them and others.

Priyanka Tiwari

Sarpanch, Rajpur (Uttar Pradesh)

Priyanka Tiwari is on a mission to make her village plastic free. Under her leadership, plastic consumption in the village was reduced by 75%. She inspired the state government to introduce a plastic collection centre that converts plastic into granules, which is further used for road tarring. She set up a greywater recycling facility for groundwater recharging and irrigation. She also established a public library in the village, encouraging children to use it.

– The Better India, May 2022

Sunita Kumari

Former Ward Member, Tineri Panchayat (Bihar)

Sunita Kumari is a household name in the area for her work. She collaborated with other ward members, led health officials, mobilised the entire village, and ran a campaign called - “Teeka lagao, Corona bhagao (Take the vaccine, chase Corona away)” to get Covid 19 vaccinations done. She was the first in her village to get the vaccine, convinced her family and neighbours and eventually sensitised the whole village to get vaccines.

– First Responders Report, Reliance Foundation, 2022

Droupadi Murmu

President of India

Hailing from a small village, Droupadi Murmu started out as a teacher and then worked as a junior assistant in Odisha government before she entered politics. Starting her political journey as a Ward Councillor in Rairangpur, she climbed up the ladder to become India’s first President from the tribal community. She has a stellar record as a legislator, minister and governor, winning multiple awards for her legislative work.

– Multiple Sources

Ponna Swapna

Sarpanch, Thimmajiwadi village (Telangana)

Ponna Swapna’s work for the community, especially in enhancing access to adult literacy for villagers, got her elected as a Sarpanch. She has been leading the village by providing clean drinking water, eliminating open defecation, and installing a drainage system. Ponna inspired the village by planting over 20,000 trees. She campaigned door to door to get the whole village inoculated during the Covid-19 vaccination drive.

– First Responders Report, Reliance Foundation, 2022

Kamla Devi

Former Sarpanch, Tilonia Panchayat (Rajasthan)

A trained solar engineer from Barefoot College, Kamla Devi taught children at night school and educated women about their health, rights and empowerment. Her accomplishments and community work led her to victory in the Sarpanch elections against a powerful family who held the position for decades. She had also served as a Panchayat Samiti member and set up a school in her village. Kamala formed two self-help groups to support greenery and tree plantation work in their village. (The Citizen, Apr 2022; im4change)

– The CitIzen, Apr 2022; im4change

Curated by: Tapakshi Magan, Akhil Neelam

Design: Vida Seraphina (

Thank you for reading Beyond Victims!

Women for Politics is an initiative of Centre for Gender And Politics (CGAP).

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If you come across similar stories of women's leadership in South Asia, please email us at:


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