A 21-year-old woman, Bhagyashree Lekami, is the sarpanch of Koti village, located in Bhamragad Tehsil of Gadchiroli in Maharashtra — close to dense forests and the mountainous Naxal-dominated area of Abujmarh, at a distance of 2,000 km from Mumbai.
After two years of the village having no sarpanch, Lekami was elected in 2019.
“Our village is at a distance of 2,000 km from Mumbai. Even the government cannot reach here. This is why the government cannot understand the problems of our village. To change the situation, the people in the village will have to come forward. Therefore, I decided to become a sarpanch,” Lekami told ANI.
Initially, Lekami, the woman sarpanch of the village, had dreamed of moving to a bigger city and starting a career. However, after being elected sarpanch of the village, she changed her mind and decided to stay back. She resolved to solve the problems faced by the villagers, The Quint reported.
Lekami is working to combat unemployment and lack of medical facilities — the biggest problems plaguing the village now.
One of her major goals is to look after women’s health and menstruation-related diseases, and solve any problem related to the same. Using government funds, she has made sanitary pads available to the women of the village.
Lekami told ANI that although she dreams of making her village number one, she does not wish to hurt the identity of the village in the process of development.
“Whatever work I will do, it will definitely change the picture of the village, but the village will retain its importance,” said the young sarpanch of the Koti Grampanchayat.
Despite having to travel through kutcha roads, Lekami rides her bike to travel to the nine villages falling under the Koti Gramanchayat.
“I was born and brought up in this village. All the people have seen me since childhood. This is the reason why people give me love and respect and tell me their problems without any hesitation. They also hear what I say and never consider me weak as a woman,” Lekami said.
Lekami further told ANI that she works “neck and neck” with her male comrades.