|THE central executive committee of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) decided to closely monitor the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (REGA) through out the country. It felt this was necessary in the context of continuing marginalisation of women and underestimation of her work.
This was decided in the meeting of the central executive meeting of AIDWA held at New Delhi on November 15-16, 2005. A total of 65 members from 22 states attended the meeting, which discussed the major issues facing the women in the country in the current socio-political context. The meeting was presided over by president, Subhashini Ali, and addressed by general secretary, Sudha Sundararaman, vice president, Brinda Karat, and treasurer, Banani Biswas.
It was noted in the meeting that area-level surveys reveal that women's wages are still piece rated and therefore needed to be vehemently opposed. It is necessary to make sure that under the REGA, women's wages are time-rated, and that minimum wages are paid properly. AIDWA's task will include monitoring of the lists of employment seekers, with women registered and given due priority when work is allocated.
The CEC meeting noted with deep concern the dangerous pro-US tilt of the UPA government through its various bilateral agreements, the carrying out of joint military exercises, and the anti-Iran vote at the IAEA meeting. The AIDWA resolved to participate in joint struggles to ensure that the UPA government does not compromise the interests of farmers and poor citizens of our country in the forthcoming WTO negotiations at Hong Kong.
It also decried the manner in which the governments of the BJP-ruled states were continuing with their communal and revivalist propaganda, and called upon all women to resist efforts to divide the people on communal lines.
Members from various states recounted how the persistent shortages in kerosene supply had resulted in its blackmarketing, with prices skyrocketing to Rs 35 to 50 per litre. The CEC denounced the moves to introduce dual pricing for LPG and kerosene and demanded that the central government desist from squeezing common people and implement alternative policies to deal with the problem of rising international prices of crude oil.
The AIDWA will observe December 1 as a protest day on this issue with the following main demands:
A central delegation will meet the union petroleum minister Mani Shankar Iyer on this issue.
- Adequate supply of subsidised kerosene and gas
- Strict curtailment of the blackmarketing (where price per one litre of kerosene has touched a high of Rs 50!)
- Subsidised LPG supply to all families without conditionalities to continue. No dual pricing to be brought in.
There was also a serious discussion in the meeting on the increased attempts at moral policing by various forces, which are having a retrogressive impact on women's democratic rights in society. The CEC condemned the remarks made against Tamil film actress Khushboo by local self-styled upholders of "Tamil culture", and requested courts not to wrongfully entertain complaints that are a direct attack on the right to freedom of expression of an individual.
It was decided to observe December 10 - Human Rights Day - as a Demands Day. The Domestic Violence Act, and the Hindu Succession Act have been passed, and AIDWA has played a crucial role in strengthening these important legislations. However, the significant entitlements under the Acts have hardly been brought into the public eye. It is necessary to ensure that the rules of the Domestic Violence Act are framed immediately and the Act be implemented properly.
It was noted that the committees set up under the PNDT Act for curbing sex selective abortions at various levels are proving to be ineffective, and the AIDWA resolved to intervene to make it more effective, along with conducting campaigns against neglect of the girl child. It also decided to set up Media Monitoring Committees on behalf of the organisation in different states to monitor the portrayal of women in the print and electronic media, and give a memorandum to the UPA government for a comprehensive Media Policy.
Other important initiatives planned included a survey on migration, a joint workshop on ICDS, and attention to the issues of Muslim, dalit and tribal women. It was resolved that the collection for Kashmir earthquake relief would continue, since a more sustained assistance is very much required.