Mahila panchayat offer crisis intervention and legal aid at community level and help tackle local level disputes and assist in reduction and reconciliation of violence against women. Delhi Commission for Women has promoted the setting up of Mahila Panchayats. Mahila Panchayats is an innovative collective approach for community participation in dispute redressal. After need assessment and motivation, community leaders are identified and these women are then motivated to volunteer as Mahila Panchayat Members. The 20 MPs members are trained in legal issues, dispute redressal mechanism, trained in the laws relevant to crimes against women, given exposure about the existing legal position regarding property, maintenance, marriage, custody, etc. They are also given training in counseling, FIR writing, pursuing with police station, how to proceed for legal recourse. The Mahila Panchayats itself acts as a “Watch Dog” and its members, after orientation, and training, can handle delicate and family disputes. They find solutions at the local level through the workers in the field itself. They link up with lawyers and issues which cannot be resolved at the Mahila Panchayat level are either resolved by the lawyers or alternative course of action is determined in consultation with lead NGO, lawyer and Delhi Commission for Women.
Mahila Panchayats have started taking cases and resolving them at the community level. These cases pertain to bigamy, maintenance, domestic violence, alcoholism and other issues. In most cases Panchayats have been able to resolve the cases at their own level. In some cases, they had to take joint action to bring pressure on the men concerned so as to obtain redressal for the women complainants.