2 December, 2001 M Venugopala Rao
LEADERS of All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) called upon the women of the country to fight against communalism, fundamentalism and globalisation.
Addressing a massive public meeting held on the concluding day of the four-day sixth triennial conference of AIDWA on November 27 in Visakhapatnam, they exhorted the women to fight back violence of all kinds perpetrated in the name of politics, dowry, gender discrimination and economic policies. The meeting was presided over by the vice president of the Association, Mallu Swarajyam.
Earlier, thousands of women who came from all over the state, took out a colourful procession, holding banners, placards and shouting slogans. They marched along with the leaders and delegates of the sixth conference of AIDWA to the Bullayya College grounds, where the public meeting was held. Women from Kerala attired in similar sarees and dancing throughout the procession caught the attention of everyone. The women from Gujarat sang songs in a joyous manner while the tribal women from Araku danced in Dhimsa style. The women from West Godavari and Bhadrachalm exhibited their traditional art forms . It took 45 minutes for the rally to cross a point. The determination and discipline of the women inspired the people of the steel city Vishakapatnam.
Addressing the meeting, Brinda Karat, the re-elected general secretary of AIDWA, warned that the women would not keep quiet if, in the name of god, religion is misused for promoting Hindutva. Though the BJP was in power at the centre, it was the forces of RSS and Viswa Hindu Parishad which were actually running the show from behind, charged Brinda Karat said. She termed the RSS as "Rashtriya Sarvanaashan Samithi".
She called for strengthening of the fight for bringing down the present central government as its policies were responsible for the innumerable problems being faced by the women. She exhorted the women to get recognition in the society, not as a sister or mother or wife, but as a woman and as an individual. Under the rule of the BJP-led government,in the year of women’s empowerment, the women had no empowerment, she said.
Recollecting the glorious struggle by the people of Andhra Pradesh to achieve the Vizag Steel Plant, she lashed out at the Chandrababu Naidu government for its privatisation spree and called upon the people to thwart its attempts to privatise even the Vizag Steel Plant and the beach which adorned Visakhapatnam.
The newly elected president of AIDWA, Subhashini Ali, explained how violence in various forms- in the name of tradition and dowry, state violence, family violence and pre-natal violence - was being perpetrated on women and traced their root-causes in communalism and globalisation. She said that though the women continued to be victims of all forms of violence, they were also fighting back and that gave inspiration. She explained that the conference discussed the various economic, political and globalisation policies and their adverse impact on the lives of women. The commitment of the women who attended the meeting strengthened the resolve of AIDWA to fight against communalism and globalisation, Subhashini asserted. The Working President of AIDWA, Shyamali Gupta, explained how the Left Front government in West Bengal has been working for the welfare of the weaker sections, especially of the women. That was one of the reasons why the people of West Bengal elected the LF government for the sixth consecutive term. The government gave more than ten lakh joint pattas on land distributed, giving equal right to women. The LF government was giving necessary fillip to women to actively participate in politics and as a result more than 24,000 women were elected to the panchayat raj bodies and discharging their duties successfully in the state, Syamaly Gupta explained. Women were elected as chairpersons of seven zilla parishads in West Bengal.
The representative of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanista (RAWA), Sahar Saba, appealed to the peace-loving people of India to help establish peace, security and democracy in her country. She appealed to organisations like AIDWA to cooperate for safeguarding peace in Afghanistan. Referring to the Bonn meeting for formation of a new government in Afghanisatna, Sahar Saba expressed the apprehension that the women in Afghanistan would be in big trouble, worse than what they were in today, if the Northern Alliance was allowed to rule the country.
The president of Andhra Pradesh unit of AIDWA, S Punyavathy came down heavily on the anti-people policies of the Chandrababu Naidu government. Even as women had to trek long distances to fetch drinking water, the government was attempting privatisation of drinking water and asking the people to pay for it, she criticised. She asked the women to fight against the state government which had the gumption to state that prostitution would be legalised.
CPI(M) MP, Dr. Y Radhakrishna Murthy exhorted that the hands which move the cradle should build movements. He asked women to fight for their greater representation in legislaltive bodies and force the government to agree to at least 33 per cent reservations for them. He asked them to fight for not only gender equality, but also for their rights to safeguard their identity and existence. Mallu Swarajyam said the rulers were treating the people as vote banks only. T.Pavani, general secretary of AP unit of AIDWA, stressed the need for mobilising and organising women for waging militant struggles.