What we do Empowering women A new leader emerges from our Self-Help Groups The local Panchayat (council) elections in Tamil Nadu were held in December 2019. Of the 17 RTU self-help group members from rural villages in Theni and Dindigul districts who stood in the polls, six won seats in these rural local elections. We congratulate the winners as they start work representing their villages. Pandiammal, aged 40, one of our self-help group members, emerged victorious in the local elections and became a councillor in her village of Parasuramapuram, winning by a margin of 253 votes. Pandiammal and her husband have six children and both do daily agriculture labouring work in the banana fields, where they earn a modest income to support their family of six children. Driven by a desire to improve everyday life for her family and others in their situation, Pandiammal joined RTU’s ‘Muthumariamman’ Self-Help Group in 2001 and became a very effective group leader. She took part in numerous training courses organised by RTU, learning about leadership, Panchiayat administration, social issues, politics and governance. Encouraged by the local women who supported her to become a councillor, Pandiammal says that being part of a self-help group gave her the strength and confidence to contest the elections and win the opportunity to serve her village. She expressed thanks to RTU and her group for helping her become a strong female leader with the power to influence positive change in her community. We wish her well in all her endeavours.