The AIDWA central executive committee (CEC) meeting held on June 30-July 1-2, 2017 in Bengaluru, Karnataka, took several important decisions to take forward the movement on mass issues concerning women. 75 out of 99 CEC members and 8 out of 12 special invitees from all states attended this meeting. The central secretariat meeting was held prior to the CEC. The lively interaction and free and frank discussion showed the collective team spirit in the CEC.
The AIDWA Karnataka state committee had made excellent arrangements. The seminars ‘On Nationalism’ and ‘Breaking Stereotypes, Building Alternatives’ were a grand success.
President Malini Bhattacharya, along with vice-presidents Sudha Sundararaman, U Vasuki and Krishna Rakshit chaired the different sessions of the meeting.
REPORT ON CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS
The 23-page report on current developments, both international and national, for the period from March 15 to July 25, 2017 was placed by the general secretary Mariam Dhawale and was adopted after a lively and fruitful discussion.
For Passage of Women’s Reservation Bill
The women’s reservation bill has been kept in cold storage by the BJP government. It had promised to pass this bill in its election manifesto. The CEC decided to mobilise women to demand the immediate passing of the women’s reservation bill. A joint meeting of women’s organisations was held in Delhi to plan this protest action.
The demonstration will be held in Delhi jointly by women’s organisations on July 27. AIDWA will mobilise women from nearby states of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. All other state committees will organise protest actions on July 27.
Attempts to close down Women’s Studies Centres
The central government is moving towards withdrawing financial support to Women’s Studies Centres across the country. Women's studies play a significant role in uncovering the discrimination against women, drawing attention to the issues of marginalised women, bringing out the impact of political and economic macro systems on women and focusing attention on social factors that militate against women's rights and equality.
It was decided that AIDWA will organise a campaign to defend Women’s Studies Centres and a resolution was adopted to this effect. AIDWA leaders will visit the Women’s Studies Centres in their states with a copy of the resolution and express their solidarity and support.
Massive Jail Bharo Stir in Support of Peasantry
The CEC took note of the tremendous upsurge amongst the peasantry in our country on the two major issues of loan waiver and remunerative prices as per the Swaminathan Commission. Along with these are the issues of MNREGA implementation and the ban on the cattle trade. The agrarian sector is in deep crisis with peasant suicides in India having increased by 42 per cent in the three years of the Modi regime. The situation of women in rural areas is extremely serious. There have been massive agitations in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. This struggle is now spreading to Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Tamilnadu, Karnataka and other states.
More than 200 organisations working among the farmers have given a call for a nationwide jail bharo agitation on August 9. The CEC decided to organise an independent campaign in support of this agitation and to mobilise peasant women in large numbers for the August 9 jail bharo. All state committees will plan and organise struggles to take up the issues of rural women.
Public Distribution System in Disarray
The public distribution system is in total disarray. Due to compulsion of the Aadhaar card, the beneficiaries under the PDS are being restricted. Many eligible poor families are being removed from the beneficiaries list. New names are not being added in the ration cards. The distribution of sugar has been stopped in ration shops.
The CEC decided that all states will organise protests demanding the supply of essential items, especially sugar in all ration shops, by July 15. It was also decided to organise state-level actions demanding the supply of extra sugar, oil, rava, dals, etc before the Diwali festival in October.
Women and Work
There has been a continuous decrease in job opportunities for women and this is reflected in the decline in the work participation rate of women. Non-availability of work is creating tremendous hardships for women. The last three years of the Modi government have caused devastation in the lives of the common people, especially women.
It was decided to make conscious efforts to increase our work in the rural areas. The campaign on women’s right to work will be carried forward and further intensified. As decided in the last CEC meeting, many of the state committees have started taking up issues related to the implementation of MNREGA. The campaigns and struggles amongst MNREGA workers must continue and must be intensified. The Karnataka state committee has done excellent work among MNREGA workers.
Many of the state committees are actively involved in organising and taking up issues of women in the unorganised and informal sectors. Some states have planned to organise domestic workers and home-based workers. The concerned state committees will identify the issues and raise the demands for women workers in the informal sector. An All India protest on the demands related to work by this year-end has been planned.
Ongoing Campaigns and Struggles
AIDWA has been actively organising women around the issues of violence against women, against communal and casteist forces, and against liquor. These and other issues will be taken up in the states with much more vigour and intensity.
Vice president Subhashini Ali explained the importance of taking forward our legacy of struggle and sacrifice through our programmes on the poster exhibition based on women freedom fighters from the Left, Communist and progressive movements. She explained the need to fight the communal forces and expose their false propaganda on nationalism.
The preparatory work done for the poster exhibition was placed by Tapasi Praharaj. So far photos and details of 49 women freedom fighters have been received from the states. This exhibition will be released on July 23, 2017 – Capt. Lakshmi Sehgal Memorial Day. Prominent progressive, secular personalities will be invited to inaugurate the exhibition. The exhibition will be displayed in different places from July 23 to August 15, our 70th Independence Day.
The sub-committee meetings were held during the CEC. The suggestions and decisions of the sub-committees were placed before the CEC. States will implement these decisions as per the reports of the sub-committees.
Resolutions In support of the Women’s Studies Centres, On GST, Against Dilution of the PcPNDT Act and Against Centralised Kitchens for Midday Meals were adopted.
AIDWA strongly condemned the UGC notification to limit support to Women’s Studies Centres (WSC) across the country only up to September this year. Thousands of students and teachers attached to WSCs have been thrown into utter uncertainty by this new notification. The axe may fall on these centres suddenly and in the middle of the academic term.
AIDWA called for a complete exemption from GST on all essential commodities, especially edible oils, LPG etc. It demanded that the implementation of the GST should be deferred till the issue of the additional economic burdens on ordinary people, especially women, is settled.
AIDWA is deeply concerned by the attempts to dilute the provisions of the PCPNDT Act (1994). The Sample Registration Survey (2013-14) has revealed a sex ratio of 900 girls to 1000 boys, indicating an alarming prevalence of sex selective abortion. At such a time, attempts to undermine the Act are reprehensible.
AIDWA condemned the amendment to midday meal rules seeking to use the facility of centralised kitchens for cooking meals. AIDWA condemned this amendment since it only benefits the NGOs and corporates and causes great harm to poor women as well as children.
PUBLICATIONS AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Samya April-June 2017 issue and the AIDWA Constitution in English and Hindi was distributed to the states. The All India conference report – ‘AIDWA Perspectives’ and Commission Papers will be finalised by the next CEC meeting. A meeting of the available members of the editorial board of Women’s Equality was held. Nalini Taneja and Mariam Dhawale were inducted as members of the editorial board by the CEC.
The AIDWA website is being updated with the help of fraternal contacts in Delhi. It should become functional by the next CEC meeting.
The statewise membership figures were placed by treasurer, P. K. Sreemathi. The total membership for 2017 deposited so far is 66,12,946. The CEC congratulated Kerala and Tripura for completing their membership enrolment for 2017. All state committees will pay serious attention to this task and complete their membership targets at the earliest.
NEXT CEC MEETING
The next meeting of the CEC will be held on October 13-14-15 in Amritsar, Punjab. The central secretariat will be held at 10 am on October 13 and the CEC will begin at 4 pm the same day.