The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic and the unplanned lockdown accelerated the discrimination and devastation of women of all sections, particularly the vulnerable, poor and the daily wage women workers. On the one hand, the lockdown has devastated their livelihood and on the other physical distancing snatched away many women’s source of earning and income. Women have become the shock absorber of the family. As schools are closed and hospitals are turning away patients other than with Covid-19, the elderly and the sick become additional responsibility for women. In India, women do ten times more care work than men and it is totally unpaid.
Considering the deepening socio-economic crisis in India and its disproportionate impact on women, the national women’s organisations have decided to jointly take up the issues of life, livelihood and democratic rights. It has also decided to undertake a sustained campaign against issues related to increasing violence against women, the draconian and authoritarian and anti-democratic measures of Modi Government, particularly with respect to targeting of minorities, dissenting activists and students.
It has also decided that the need of the hour is to have a massive mobilisation of women to defend our hard-earned rights and ensure the implementation of urgent steps to help women facing hunger and malnutrition and economic distress arising due to the anti-people’s policies and inept handling of the pandemic by the BJP led regime. In India already 53% women are anemic and 36% of children under 5 years are underweight. The present crisis brings with it more precocity, more hunger and more malnutrition.
National Women’sOrganisations have given a call for a National Protestdemanding“Life, Livelihood & Democratic Rights”, on 28th August 2020 and to protest against the non-serious and lethargic response of the Modi government towards the crippling impact of COVID-19 on people, particularly on women, workers in the unorganized sectors and other vulnerable communities.
Demands placed before the Central Government for urgent consideration and redressal -
-Set up a committee to study gendered impacts of the pandemic and to understand the severity of it on women for making policies and programmes to mitigate it.
-50% representation of women should be ensured in ALL ‘Task Force/Committees for impact mitigation of COVID 19.
- Reconstitute the ‘task force’ set up by the PM for Covid mitigation with 50% women members
For Food Security
-To prevent malnutrition and hunger deaths –Distribute ten kg grains per person along with dal, cooking oil and other essential commodities to all cardholders as well as non-card holders; no beneficiary identification, conditions and targeting; it should be given every month till the pandemic crisis is over
- De-link AADHAAR from ration and pension
- Set up decentralised community kitchens with nutritious hot-cooked food at Village Panchayat/Ward level for the elderly, disabled, pregnant and lactating mothers, school students and young children.
- Give the full amount of maternity benefits Rs. 6,000/- (NFSA 2013) in one installment without any disqualifying conditions. Invest more for women and children to ensure a healthy future generation and labour force.
- Recognize the frontline health workers-ASHA, Anganwadi- as workers and institutionalize them with all rights as workers
-Strengthen primary health centers with all facilities as these are the first point of access to women for their health needs
-No privatization of government hospitals. Allocate 6% of GDP for Health
- Expansion of healthcare facilities with universal coverage for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients
-Ensure quality education for all children
- To prevent drop out of students, particularly girl students, in this era of online education, ensure access of space like community centres with facilities and uninterrupted electricity supply for study, to those students belonging to poor and vulnerable communities who live in jhuggies, one room houses, shelter homes,etc
-Use PMCARE Fund to provide laptops, smartphones, TVs,etc to students especially to girls frommarginalised and poor sections
- Earmark 8% GDP for education
-Enhance financial support substantially for social welfare measures
- Provide financial support of Rs. 10,000/- to all especially those who lost their livelihood under lockdown and to all vulnerable sections of the society
- Give Rs. 10,000/- as monthly financial assistance to landless agricultural workers (60 million women)
- Revert MGNREGA, back as a demand driven Act and increase reservation to 50% for women; increase the per day wage to Rs. 600/- and ensure timely payment
- 50 % reservation for women under Prime Minister’s GaribKalyanRozgarAbhiyaan, with equal wage rate
- Ensure employment to all and financial assistance of Rs. 10,000/- to all unemployed in urban areas.
- Enact an Urban Employment Guarantee Act (UEGA) with provisions of 50% reservation for women, equal wage etc.
- 50% of the ‘rented houses’ announced by the PM for migrant workers should be reserved for women workers
SHGs & women farmers
- Waiving of interest and loans for SHGs taken before the lockdown
- Not only collateral free loan BUT also provide interest free loans to SHGs, women farmers, including those who are in poultry, fishing, dairy, etc . It should be speeded up
-Stop harassment of SHG women by MFIs and their collection agents and middlemen
Violence Against Women
-Separate/Special allocation in Budget for creating adequate mechanisms and systems for effective implementation of laws to prevent crimes and violence against women
- Nirbhaya Fund should not be diverted and should be used for the all-round empowerment of the survivors of sexual violence
- Stop crushing Dissent
- Stop penalizing Dissent, the core of democracy
-Stop arrest, detention and filing of false cases under UAPA against Anti-CAA-NRC-NPR protesters and their supporters
- Judicial Enquiry into Delhi riots and targeted violence at Jamia, both in February 2020
- Release SudhaBardwaj, Shoma Sen, Gulfisha Fatima, DevanganaKalita, Natasha Narwal, and all those all human rights activists who are imprisoned for dissenting with government policies
- Ensure justice to the ‘Half widows’ of Kashmir and Reinstate statehood of J&K with Article 370 and 35A
- All post COVID-19 era plan of actions and policies should be gender responsive
- In each and every planning process and its implementation for development and nation building, equal representation of women and gender segregated data should be ensured
-Pass Women’s Reservation Bill
ALL INDIA DEMOCRATIC WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION (AIDWA) - Mariam Dhawale 9560221371
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDIAN WOMEN (NFIW) - Annie Raja 9868181992
ALL INDIA PROGRESSIVE WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION (AIPWA) - Meena Tiwari 7765857417
PRAGATISHEEL MAHILA SANGHATAN (PMS) - Poonam Kaushik 9811136242
ALL INDIA MAHILA SANSKRITIK SANGHATAN (AIMSS) - ChhabiMohanty 9438540060
ALL INDIA AGRAGAMI MAHILA SAMTI (AIAMS) - Mitalee Gupta 9884669964