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Even as all eyes are riveted on parliament over the Women’s Reservation Bill, female panchayat (village council) members gathered in the capital Wednesday said they still have to struggle for acceptance among their peers.

Roshani Devi, who is a sarpanch (village head) in Haryana, said: ‘When I decided to take regular rounds of my village for monitoring infrastructure development, the villagers opposed it. Had a male sarpanch done the same, he would have been lauded for his initiative.’

Devi is one of the 75 women panchayat representatives who attended a workshop, organised by an NGO, on strengthening women’s political empowerment.

‘People don’t trust women as much as men as a source of information on government policies and programmes,’ said another sarpanch from Bihar.

B.K. Sinha, secretary, rural development, said: ‘There are two approaches to the problem – either to wait for all officials to become sincere or to forget differences and get up and act.’

Agreeing, Devi said: ‘The struggle is to change people’s mindset. Things have improved a lot but much more needs to be done.’

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