Vandana Chavan, an advocate by profession, was thrice elected as Councillor to the Pune Municipal Corporation from 1992 – 2007 and was Mayor of the City of Pune in the year 1997-98. She was elected to the Maharashtra Legislative Council in March 2010 and is presently Member of Parliament of India, Rajya Sabha since March 2012.
Mrs. Chavan has spearheaded several initiatives in the city of Pune targeting citizen’s participation, empowerment of women and sustainable development.
Under her leadership Pune made it possible to educate 44,000 women in just one year – no simple feat this. She is the pioneer in establishing marketing outlets for goods manufactured by women and the mentally and physically challenged, by the name SMILE (Savitri Marketing Institution for Ladies’ Empowerment) which is the first ever such platform, in the State of Maharashtra and in India – an initiative which has been recognized by the UN-HABITAT and has been included amongst the 10 case studies recorded in the “Register of Innovation” for Urban Poverty Alleviation published by the Government of India and INDP. SMILE has literally been instrumental in bringing a ‘smile’ on the faces of many beneficiaries from economically challenged backgrounds.
Mrs. Chavan is passionate about environmental issues and has delivered more than 500 presentations on Climate Change / Global Warming at colleges, corporates and several seminars through her initiative ALERT (Association for Leadership Education Research and Training). Ms. Chavan is also a member of the CLIMATE PROJECT – INDIA which has been initiated by the NOBEL Laureate AL Gore, Former Vice President of the USA.
Mrs. Chavan has represented India at several international fora – She is recipient of several awards and fellowships, including the prestigious Eisenhower Fellowship (USA). She is member of the 15-member Task Force of the Metropolis Women International Network Forum which works towards making cities gender friendly.
She was selected as a Member of the Group Study Exchange Program (GSE) by the Rotary International, to visit Germany in May – June 1996 also a selected as EISENHOWER FELLOW by the Eisenhower Fellowships USA for 2000. She was a participant for the “Asia-Pacific Summit of Women Mayors and Councillors” at Phitsanulok, Bangkok, Thailand, in June 2001. She is a fellowship-holder on “Participatory Process in Municipal Governance” at the Institute of Social Sciences, Netherlands in April 2002. Mrs. Chavan also has represented Asia in a Workshop organized by Metropolis, on “Women and Governance”, in Barcelona, Spain in March 2003. Since 2005, she is Member of the 8 member International level Task Force, constituted by the Metropolis (World Association of the major metropolises) Montreal, Canada formed with an objective to establish an International network of Women in Local governance; along with that she has also to presented a paper on Participatory Governance, in the Municipal Leaders Summit on Climate Change, at Montreal, in December 2005.
Mrs. Vanadana Chavan is the honorary member of the Rotary, Alumni Association, Rotary International and Lions Club, Jaycees International, University Womens Association and several other organizations working for the upliftment of women, children and the handicapped. She was invited to represent India at Conference on “Dynamic Cities Need Women” at Brussels, Belgium on the 3rd to 5th December 2007 and to chair the Session on “Equality of women in Asia”. Was also a member of the 6 member Declaration Committee and trained at The Climate Project – India to make presentation on Global Warming by Nobel Laureate Al Gore, Former Vice President of the United States of America at the workshop held at New Delhi, in May 2008. She had also led a delegation of Women Mayor’s to Sydney, Australia for the Metropolis Congress on ‘Connecting Cities’, in October 2008.
As much as her deeds in the field of law are profound, she also has strong interests in politics. She was elected thrice as Councilor to the Pune Municipal Corporation, in the years 1992 1997 and 2001. She also has been the Mayor of Pune for the period of March 1997-98 during which she initiated “Clean City Campaign – Sankalp”, Tree Plantation and “Literacy Campaign” for the illiterates between the age group of 9 to 35, with special emphasis on public participation, in which 44,000 women were educated in one year. Along with that she organised Seminar on Aids Awareness for Women Councilors from all over Maharashtra, Orientation Workshop for Elected Representatives, Seminar on Sustainable Development of Cities for Mayors and Municipal Commissioners from major cities across the country and Fifty Years Of Independence Celebrations in a big way, which saw unprecedented response from the citizens. As a Mayor, worked towards strengthening International relationship between Sister cities of Bremen in Germany and San Jose in the US. Heading the Project called “Smile” which provides vocational training to women and marketing support to their products. The initiative is recognized by the Government of Maharashtra, The Government of India and UNDP through its “Register of Innovations” and UN-HABITAT as a ‘Good Practice’ under its initiative under the Dubai International Awards.
She has been the Vice Chairperson, All India Council of Mayors, 1997-98, Chairperson, Maharashtra State Mayor, President and Councilors Organization, 1997 -98. Currently she is the City President of the Nationalists Congress Party, Pune – also the first woman to hold this post. She was also elected unopposed as Member of Legislative Council of State of Maharashtra for the period March 2010 to December 2010 and Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha in March 2012 from the State of Maharashtra.
Here are some of her special initiatives in the city of Pune:
- Adult Literacy Program coupled with vocational training program – first of its kind in the city of Pune.
- SANKALP – Cleanliness Drive for the city – an initiative which still continues.
- Recreation Centre for the Senior Citizens.
- SMILE – a marketing outlet for the goods manufactured by women and the mentally and physically challenged.
- TANDEM – an initiative to involve youth in social activities in the city.
- SUVARNAJYOTI – an initiative to involve women from the educated middle class in social and cultural activities.
- Initiated a Library and sports group for children and youth.
- ALERT – a network initiative to bring about dialogue between government, elected representatives and the citizens, presently ALERT addresses the issue of Climate Change and creates awareness amongst different stakeholder groups.
Some of her other achievements include:
- Awarded Certificate of Appreciation for Exemplary work done in the field of Environment.
- Received the Jaycees International Excellence Award for Public Relations – 1995
- Awarded Ideal Woman Councilor Award – 1996, in recognition of meritorious service rendered for the cause of the poor and public at large, by Yuvabharati.
- Awarded the Prestigious Efficient Councilor Award – 1996 – in recognition of the work done as Councilor, Pune Municipal Corporation, by the Rajeev Gandhi Foundation, Pune.
- Was Assistant Commissioner, Girl Guides, Maharashtra.
- Recipient of the prestigious AHILYABAI HOLKAR PURASKAR, by the Government of Maharashtra for the year 2003-04, in recognition of the work done for the empowerment of women
- Vocational and Service Excellence Award by Rotary Club of Pune Riverside. 26th May 2010.
- Recognition of service by TOP MANAGEMENT CLUB, Pune.
- GREEN AMBASSADOR AWARD by Trishakti Foundation, 2009-10
- Natu Foundation Award in recognition of work done in the political field
- Environmental Club of India, Pune “Paryavaran Bhushan Award” 2012.