by CEO Gujarat
It is said that ‘A Woman Shapes the Home’. Then why should Women lag behind in shaping the country and its democracy! True to this thought, the Office of CEO Gujarat planned to evoke the democratic spirit of women of the State on the occasion of International Women’s Day on 8th March 2018. After all, which day could be better than this to remind the women of their rights bestowed by the Constitution of India to Vote, to make a choice and to take a stand! In line with the thematic approach for behavior change, a communication & engagement campaign was planned at dual level.
One intervention involved an innovative education cum motivation event with fun & games aimed to engage women into the electoral process and increase their electoral participation. Two different games were developed for the event. A special game of ‘Snakes & Ladders’ with messages on electoral participation was designed. This was before the ELC game of ‘Snakes & ladders’ was introduced by the ECI and thus it was a novel and fun concept at the time. The game was designed specifically to provide the requisite information about enrolment to the women and motivating them to cast their vote in every election without fail. The messages on the game covered wide variety of topics like enrolment eligibility, EVM&VVPAT, why casting vote is important, how every vote is important, ethical voting, Photo Voter Slip, facilitation by the BLO, various facilities available for women & PwD at Polling Stations etc. As per the modified version of the game, unhealthy/unwanted voting behaviors were discouraged by sliding down with snakes and healthy voting behaviors were encouraged with sliding up with ladders.
Apart from ‘Snakes & Ladders’, a ‘Chit-Game’ was developed with a list of 30-40 statements related to different steps of electoral participation written on different paper chits. These statements were mostly informative or action statements related to processes like enrolment, different forms for enrolment and change in details like name or address, procedure for changes in electoral roll, EPIC, facilities available at the Polling Stations for PwDs and other good practices that constitute a healthy voting behavior.
Both the games were disseminated to all Districts & Blocks. Large sized prints of the Snakes & Ladders were organized. Women’s Day celebration programs were organized at District & Block level, which were attended by large number of women members including the members of Self-Help Groups, volunteers of Mahila Samakhya, Aanganwadi Workers and many others. The women members played both the games with lot of enthusiasm and fervor. Their interest was palpable and the excitement was obvious.
Similarly in the ‘Chit-Game’, the women participants were asked to pick a chit from the bowl of chits and read aloud the statements on it. These statements were then written on a large board in legible handwriting. The participants were to copy them and rearrange these statements in an appropriate sequential order in their respective sheets with an aim that they understand the complete electoral process properly. The participant who rearranged these statements in the correct sequence was declared as the winner of the game.
All across the State, women members participated in the programs with lot of zest and zeal. The approach of learning with fun proved to be really an effective one.
Another intervention, apart from these group events, was a simultaneous communication campaign based on women’s empowerment designed in form of a series of creations. Theme based creations featuring eight different categories of women viz. Blind, Deaf & Dumb, Wheel chair bound, Housewife, Rag-picker, Tribal woman and Rural woman were designed. The cross cutting theme was ‘Despite any odds, I can do it’. The creations further added that the election machinery salutes all women who have the spark of determination. The creations were widely disseminated over social media platforms and whats app as well as were used as banners and hoardings all across the State in different events and programs.
Women’s empowerment is the dire need of the growing times. She is a mother, she is a wife, she is a sister, she is a life-partner, and she is considered a member of not one but two families. If a woman of the house is electoral literate, motivated and inspired to cast vote, she can influence generations to come and the entire society. And that is what we hope and strive for.