The position of women sarpanchs in Panchayati Raj Institutions might soon be reserved for more than five years if the resolution passed at the national roundtable on panchayati raj, held at Raipur in Chattisgarh on September 24-25, 2004, is translated into practice. The roundtable has left it to the state governments to decide on this recommendation. This was the third in the series of seven roundtables being held in different parts of the country to evolve a consensus on amendments to be made in the Panchayati Raj Act.
Currently, in a reserved constituency, panchayats get a chance on rotation basis to elect a woman sarpanch for a period of five years. Those supporting the extension of tenure argued that it would enable women representatives fight gender bias and complete development works. But the opponents of the provision said if it is implemented, many panchayats would have to wait for a very long time to be able to avail the benefits of the reservation. A few states like Tamil Nadu have already extended the reservation for women sarpanchs to 10 years.
The roundtable also passed a resolution on fixing the reservation for Scheduled Caste/Tribes in panchayat bodies based on their population in respective panchayats, and not the district population data.