(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 28, 2010
AIDWA Demands Women’s Bill Passage in Lok Sabha
With the Rajya Sabha passing on March 9 the long pending bill for 33 per cent reservation for women in legislative bodies, there was indeed a sense of achievement at the CEC meeting. But it was also tempered with concern over the hostility, blatant and latent, that it has evoked. The scenes of unruliness in Rajya Sabha on March 8 and the subsequent virulent campaign by its opponents are indicators that its passage in Lok Sabha is going to face resistance from many quarters. Attempts are being made to pose the bill as a means to exclude minorities, OBCs, and dalit women from the corridors of power. In fact, as the experience of reservation in the panchayat and local bodies experience shows, the scope for women from the above sections to come to power in larger numbers through this legislation increases with its passage. The problem of low representation of Muslims in parliament is valid, but the problem cannot be solved through the women’s bill. However, despite the arguments being untrue, the campaign around it is being systematically built up. The AIDWA resolved to explain the real reasons for the counter campaign, and strengthen the struggle for its passage in Lok Sabha.
The CEC noted the opportunistic role played by TMC leader Mamata Bannerjee in suddenly shifting her stand of supporting the bill, for her own petty reasons. It appreciated the principled and consistent support extended by the Left parties, and called on all the parties to come together to overcome the current impasse, so that the bill finally becomes a reality.
It was leaders of the socialist
women’s movement like
Clara Zetkin, Alexandra Kollontai and others who gave the call for an
International Women’s Day, to highlight the issues affecting women
globe. This took place at the International Conference of Socialist
Right to food, against price rise,
Right to work, against job loss growth,
Right to a violence free life within and outside the home,
Right to peace and well being, say no to war.
Thirteen organisations of women marched under a common banner, raising slogans for these demands. The rally culminated in a meeting where speakers highlighted the urgent need to have better representation in decision making bodies in order to advance their struggle for basic democratic rights. The organisations expressed support to their sisters across the world in the fight against imperialism, for peace, against war and for equality.
Extending support to their
Indian sisters were
AIDWA general secretary Sudha Sundararaman placed the central report, which was adopted after discussion. Many significant issues were raised and future campaigns planned. A few are as below.
1) The CEC condemned the price rise, and the government’s callous refusal to accept the shattering impact it was having on the aam aadmi and aam aurat. It held the central policies responsible for the continuing and unbearable inflation, and decided to strengthen the struggle against these policies. It supported the Left Parties’ call for a Jail Bharo on April 8 to press for universalisation of the PDS, rollback of the hiked prices and Food Security Act to guarantee 35 kg of grain at Rs 2 a kg to all. For the action, it decided to mobilise women in large numbers.
2) CEC members from
3) A recent ILO report shows
that despite signs of
progress in gender equality over the past 15 years, there is still a
significant gap between women and men in terms of job opportunities and
of employment. It underlined three basic gender imbalances. (a) Nearly
per cent) of the female population above the age of 15 remain
inactive, compared to 22.3 per cent for men. (b) Women who do want to
a harder time than men in finding work. (c) When women do find work,
receive less pay and benefits than the male workers in similar
the initial impact of the economic crisis felt in the men dominated
such as finance, manufacturing and construction, has since expanded to
sectors, including services, where women tend to predominate. This
have repercussions on working women in
4) The meeting criticised the budget as anti-poor and anti-omen, with paltry allocations for schemes to address malnutrition, health and educational needs. The CEC resolved to continue to fight for better implementation of laws like NREGA, Forest Rights Act and PWDV Act, which were brought in with support from the Left, but which are now being undermined through poor funding and faulty implementation.
5) Violence against women, including crimes like rape and sexual assault, is on the rise. The AIDWA has been in the forefront of the campaign for a more comprehensive law to deal with rape, molestation and sexual assault, for which harsher and minimum punishments to the perpetrator have been proposed as amendments. It has also asked for differentiation between a major woman and a minor child; molestation and other forms of sexual assault of minors should be treated as more serious types of sexual assaults. It has also asked for extensive changes in the procedural laws relating to all these types of sexual assaults to make the laws more sensitive to women and minors.
6) Members from BJP ruled states pointed out how the BJP misuses the state machinery to push a religious agenda. In Karnataka, on Sivaratri, Tirupati laddoos and ganga jal were distributed through all the temples. The state government has been very liberal to mutts. The MP government is trying to bring passages from Bhagavad Gita into the school syllabus. It has launched a signature campaign for the protection of cows. Such attempts towards communalising the society have to be challenged.
7) Members also expressed concern about the proliferation of fake godmen in many parts of the country. Reports show how these miscreants have sexually exploited women and appropriated how much land and wealth. The government must take steps to monitor these so called godmen’s assets immediately.
The Young Women’s Convention,
held by AIDWA in
AIDWA had conducted a survey among young girls and Subhashini Ali released the report at the convention. Suhasini Maniratnam, a well-known Tamil film personality and a special invitee to the convention, spoke on the prevailing mindset that circumscribes women’s abilities and roles. She emphasised the importance of young women questioning and overcoming impediments within herself and in society. The CEC decided to hold young women’s conventions in all states so as to expose the denial of their constitutional rights and organise struggles against it.
The CEC welcomed the CPI(M) decision to nominate AIDWA vice president T N Seema and Tripura AIDWA leader Jharna Das to the Rajya Sabha.
It passed a resolution welcoming
the tabling of the
Justice Ranganath Mishra report in parliament and congratulating the
The CEC also greeted the UP
for its proposal to host the ninth national conference of AIDWA in