|STEP Out Of Your House, Struggle To Survive! This was the call given by the fourth Haryana state conference of Janwadi Mahila Samiti, organised at Saroj Vishakha Bhavan in Bhiwani on October 21-22. The venue was named after Comrade Saroj who, along with her seven years old girl, was brutally killed by her husband, two years ago, as she had refused to give up her social goals, organisation and struggles.
Inaugurating the conference, Brinda Karat, general secretary of the All India Democratic Women’s Association, pointed out the central identity of the women’s movement. "As most people believe and try to establish, the women’s movement in India is not merely a social movement but, in deeper terms, it is a political movement as it challenges the social and economic structure and strives to bring about a fundamental change in this structure." She outlined the two decades of struggle and the continuous expansion of the organisation across the states. She stressed that the unity of women must be understood in correct terms, particularly today, and this is possible only by forging close relations with the poorest amongst women, Dalit women and those belonging to the minority communities, adopting their sufferings and make them an integral part of the struggle. She said that challenging the class discrimination and exploitation through struggles was the hallmark of the movement.
The conference started with flag hoisting by Bimla Chaudhary. A presidium comprising Bimla Chaudhry, Shubha, Rajkumari and Rajdulari Sharma, president of the reception committee, was elected to conduct the conference. The Anand couple, who had valiantly contested the Ruchika case, had been specially invited to the inaugural session.
Madhu Anand placed before the conference the circumstances which led to the tragic death of Ruchika, a promising 15 years old tennis player. Concluding the inaugural session, Shubha lambasted the state government and the cruel casteist formations which singled out the innocent girl child and women for victimisation.
Jagmati, secretary of the state unit, placed the report which discussed in detail the opportunist politics in Haryana, concrete effects of globalisation and privatisation on women, specific condition of young girls, casteism in Haryana and the character of Sarvkhap panchayats. These casteist formations are major obstacles to the women’s movement and the broader democratic movement. The report pointed out that the Janwadi Mahila Samiti had directly challenged this through a number of actions such as intervention in the Pehrawar scandal, Jondhi case, etc, and presented an alternative through the broader people’s panchayats. 31 delegates took part in the discussion on the report.
A major attraction of the conference was a cultural programme organised at the Ghantaghar Chowk on October 21 evening. The young artists of Haryana Gyan Vigyan Samiti presented songs, plays and lyrics based plays. The programme began with a song against foeticide ‘Daughters of this country, demand right to live!’. A play titled ‘A new beginning’, depicting the plight of the deprived sections, particulary women and Dalits, and their participation in democratic process, was highly appreciated.
For the conference, a 43-member reception committee was formed, comprising women from all walks of life. It is a matter of pride that Rajdulari Sharma was president of the reception committee. She had participated in the movement against the ‘purda system’ by opposing it in her own house. In her augural address, she recounted how she had decided to marry without the ‘purda’, how the priest refused to conduct the marriage and how she had to chant the mantras herself.