Chatra district of Jharkhand has total population 676780 Electors under Assembly Constituency of 27-Chatra and 26-Simaria with 3,57,962 as Male and 3,18,818 as Female. Whereas electors under Chatra and Simaria is 4,29,973 with 2,13,940 as male and 2,16,033 as Female which is 50.24%.
As per Census 2011 out of total population, 6% people lives in Urban areas while 94% lives in the Rural areas. The average literacy rate in urban areas is 80.9% while that in rural areas is 58.8%. Sex Ratio of Urban areas in Chatra district is 867 while that of Rural areas is 959.
Referring to previous general elections 2014's Voters turn out at 54.32%, and 95% of population residing in rural pocket as per DCHB 2011 data and significant females too, hence District SVEEP team planned for intervention with women voters within rural pockets too, relying on presence of field teams of JSLPS [Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society under the aegis of Rural Development Department, Government of Jharkhand] to reach out the rural communities especially women to talk about their active electoral participation. Women’s self-help groups (SHGs) have been engaged as agents of social, political, and economic empowerment as well as a platform for transformation in many parts of the country. SHGs are “membership-based community institutions” whose members with mutual support attempts to transform every individual living under National Rural Livelihood Mission. Chatra JSLPS is currently engaged with more than 75000 women in this district under this intervention, thus a wonderful platform at rural pocket. Each SHG comprises of 10–20 women from similar socio-economic backgrounds who live in the neighbourhood, meet regularly and save small amounts of money in a common account. Capitalizing on the quantum of SHG members, District SVEEP team decided to facilitate a medium for communication channel among rural women. Women SHGs in the district, as standard practices conduct regular interactions for thrift and saving followed with discussion on local issues of their concerns from the neighbourhood among the members to benefit in creation of space for better living. This experience of being in a group and interacting with other women boost women’s self-confidence and their active participation in community processes. Presence of SHGs and their organizational capacities inspired District SVEEP Team to leverage for wider outreach of information on electoral literacy and active participation from all rural household.
District JSLPS [Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society under the aegis of Rural Development Department, Government of Jharkhand] team played a pivotal role in harnessing the social capital with the engagement of Women SHG members for electoral participation. Training program were planned for community cadre at block level and supplemented with booklets and pamphlets on electoral process as a tool for reference. Post to the capacity building exercise, the community cadres initiated sensitization sessions with members of SHGs during their weekly meetings targeting to reachout their entire villages under the Block in months time. The community cadres started disseminating information on electoral process during weekly SHG meetings, Village Organization meetings and Cluster Level Federation meetings and concluded with a pledge to facilitate similar process with their neighbourhood women and family members. Special camps were organized for electoral list rectification and modification with information within these women SHG meetings for maximum outreach in coordination with respective BLOs [Booth Level Officer] in village as no voter been left behind. Audio and video means were adopted by local Block level JSLPS Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society under the ageis of Rural Development Department, Government of Jharkhand team for information dissemination.
There were villages with limited access to motorable road and reachable only by motorbikes, JSLPS community cadres and field staff organized meetings with video clippings through small pico projectors and on Laptops. Apart from these, members of SHGs and their federation also helped in organizing events at village level and pasting election related posters at public places and raised slogans during their brief transact walk with billboards with messages of ethical voting as provided by district SVEEP teams. District Programme Manager- NRLM, facilitated planning meeting with all Block Programme Managers of 12- Blocks for conducting SVEEP activities across 154 Panchayat with members of SHGs on daily basis for wider outreach. To initiate this process, 01-day orientation session was held with all Block In-charges of JSLPS about SVEEP and its different component along with the formulation of key processes involved especially the usage of VVPAT machine. District JSLPS team played a vital role in implanting theses strategy for SHGS members through a planned training program for each and every cadre at block level and provided them needed booklets and pamphlets as a ready reference. After their training, the Block teams started working in their respective villages facilitating weekly SHG meetings, Village Organization meetings and Cluster Level Federation meeting. As implementation plan, Team JSLPS planned for trickle down process for dissemination of the key messages for electoral participation under SVEEP through its block team.
As a common approach across all the 12 blocks, district JSLPS team designed a set of common messages to be part of their sensitization meetings with women as,
· All eligible voters above 18 years must cast their vote along with the responsibility of mobilizing the other persons in their neighborhood,
· Ensure names of all eligible voter in the electoral list of their respective booth- if not found, to contact the respective BLOs for enrollment support along with the needed forms for submission or any form of addition, modifications/ correction needed,
· Disseminate the usage of VVPAT [Voters Verifiable Paper Audit Trail] machine, a new initiative of ECI during the general election 2019, with the help of available posters as provided by ECI [Election Commission of India] and on its functioning as display of paper slips of casted votes within the secret chamber for 07 seconds and
· Mention the list of IDs cards permissible as mentioned by ECI to be carried on poll day by eligible voters in case of non availability of EPIC/ voters cards.
During the process, discussions were also held on for free and fair election process and reporting of unfair incidents through cVIGIL applications available for download from Play store of android phones through Photos and Videos with a turnaround time of 100 minutes for redressal.
JSLPS Block teams facilitated events of community meeting at village level, rally for mass mobilization with election related messages on billboards within their hamlet area, facilitated sandhya chaupal at prominent places within the villages, display of election awareness poster at prominent public sites-government buildings, video shows on laptop by CC [Community Coordinator of JSLPS] for face to face interaction within their neighborhood for mass mobilization for active electoral participation.
SHGs have effective coordinated structure well connected with members across the entire district of Chatra. It was a wonderful experience working them and learn on the means of message dissemination to the last pocket of rural communities effectively. These women are true champions and responsible citizens in many ways, as District Chatra experienced tremendous increase in women Voter's turnout than men in the Lok Sabha General Election 2019 and registered a significant growth from the previous General Election of 2014.