|On Human Rights Day today, thousands of women in at least 250 centres all over India demonstrated for the basic human right for a life free from hunger. Organised by the All India Democratic Women's Association the protests included gheraos and picketing of FCI godowns, demonstrations at Central Government offices and dharnas before State Assemblies. In New Delhi hundreds of women blocked the main road outside the Ministry for Food. Carrying placards and banners that depicted the terrible plight of poor women and children even as 6 crore tonnes of foodgrains rotted in Government godowns, the women who came from the slums of the city, raised slogans demanding universalisation of the ration system and cheap rations for all. AIDWA will be giving a memorandum to the Food Minister later today. Addressing the protesters, Brinda Karat General Secretary of AIDWA, said that drought had been converted into hunger by Government policies in over 278 districts in India. Women have been the worst hit. In surveys conducted by AIDWA in six States, this year women's wages have been more than halved, in some places the women are doing the same work for 70 to 100 per cent less wages than last year. Women are also facing increasing incidents of abuse and humiliation. Demanding distribution of foodgrains at Antodaya prices for all sections of the poor including widows and female headed families , she said that all talk of women's empowerment and human rights are a sham unless the basic human right to be free from hunger is guaranteed. Ashalata, Delhi Secretary said that in the Capital people were being deprived of BPL cards, as though there were no poor people in the city whereas over half the population is forced to live in jhuggis earning less than minimum wages.
In thirteen districts of Kerala women picketed FCI godowns. In Maharashtra, women in twelve districts held demonstrations and rasta rokos. In UP a State level rally with thousands of women marched to the State Assembly demanding cheap rations for all. Similar demonstrations were held in West Bengal, Orissa, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh. In many of the demonstrations affected women spoke of their terrible plight and demanded work from the Governmen not charity.
ADWA has appealed to Parliament to have a special discussion on the impact of drought related policies with emphasis on its impact on women so as to guarantee and ensure a distribution of the 6 crore tonne foodgrains at Antodaya prices.