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79‑Year‑Old Woman Elected Village Panchayat Chief After Door‑to‑Door Campaign

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Jan 3, 2020

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A. Veerammal poses with her certificate of office. (Image Credit: DT Next)

A 79-year-old woman, described by her son as the “village paati (grandmother),” has been elected panchayat president for Arittapatti village in Tamil Nadu. A. Veerammal, who was running for the post for the third time, sealed her victory with a wave of youth support, after a door-to-door campaign in the 2,600-strong village.

Her platform was simple: improve the lives of her fellow residents. It resonated with one cohort particularly — the village youth. “We did not even paste posters in the village. Since we had a huge following of youngsters who rallied around my mother, they happily campaigned for the brinjal symbol allocated to us and helped us win,” Veerammal’s son told The Hindu.

Of course, the youth could just be rallying around a cause that allows them to send brinjal emoji WhatsApp messages with abandon, but it’s likely Veerammal’s promises played a role, too.

“I’ll work for the betterment of Arittapatti,” she told The Hindu. “The village has given me so much over the past several years. It is time to give back to the village in the form of basic necessities such as drinking water, roads, proper bathrooms, and drainage facilities.”


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Her stance speaks to the importance of establishing female leaders in equal numbers to male ones; research has found that Indian constituencies with women representatives are more likely to experience greater economic development and completed infrastructure projects.

After a deeply troubled 2019, let’s hope this early development in 2020 heralds the recent, end-of-year prognostication made by former U.S. President Barrack Obama, when he said the world would be a better place if women ran it.

“There would be less war, kids would be better-taken care of, and there would be a general improvement in living standards and outcomes,” he said at a recent speaking engagement.

Veerammal then, like all women leaders, has a larger task ahead of her than just guiding her village into the new decade.

“I will prove it with my actions,” Veerammal told the Times of India.

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Written By Liesl Goecker

Liesl Goecker is The Swaddle’s managing editor and has been living and writing in Mumbai since 2010. She is passionate about women’s rights, everyone’s health, and caffeine.

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