THE AIDWA central executive committee (CEC) meeting held on October 13-15, 2017 in Amritsar, Punjab, decided to organise nationwide campaigns and struggles on challenges arising from the economic attacks of the BJP government and the communal propaganda of the Sangh Parivar. President Malini Bhattacharya, along with vice-presidents Sudha Sundararaman, T N Seema, Rampari and Rama Devi chaired the various sessions of the CEC.
A lively cultural programme of Gidda and Bhangda, folk dances of Punjab was organised by the reception committee. Colourfully dressed teams of young women and men performed to the enthusiastic response of CEC members. The AIDWA Punjab state committee, with the help of fraternal organisations, hosted this meeting excellently.
REPORT ON CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS
The report on current developments for the last three months was placed by general secretary Mariam Dhawale and was adopted after a lively discussion, with important inputs and suggestions.
An interesting note on the growing atmosphere of intolerance, increasing violence against women and the dangerous consequences of the assertion of regressive and reactionary ideologies on women was placed by Shubha from Haryana. CEC members deliberated on the impact of the communal propaganda on women and the CEC decided to organise a nationwide campaign on these issues in all the areas where AIDWA has its membership from November 25, Shyamali Gupta death anniversary day and International Anti-Violence Day to December 10, International Human Rights Day. Various types of programmes involving young women and girl students too will be oganised. An all India convention against violence and regressive ideology will be organised by AIDWA on December 8, 2017 at Mavlankar Hall in New Delhi.
The BJP had promised to pass the women’s reservation bill in its election manifesto. But in the last three years it has not even placed this bill before parliament. Rampari explained the current situation on this issue. The CEC decided to organise protest actions on November 22 in all states during the winter session of parliament to demand the immediate passage of the women’s reservation bill.
STRUGGLE FOR WORK
The issue of shrinkage of livelihood opportunities and growing unemployment, which has assumed alarming proportions, was explained by Sudha Sundararaman. Non-availability of work is creating tremendous hardships for women. AIDWA decided to intensify its campaign on women’s right to work and to mobilise younger sections of women for this demand.
Conscious efforts will be made to increase AIDWA work in rural areas. Many state committees have started taking up issues related to the implementation of MNREGA. It is necessary to build a strong movement on the demands of MNREGA workers, majority of whom are women. Lack of work, low wages, non-payment of wages, corruption, etc, are some of the issues that will be raised while campaigning among MNREGA workers, apart from the demand for an Urban Employment Guarantee Act. Many state committees are also actively involved in taking up issues of women in the unorganised and informal sectors.
AIDWA will prepare a charter of demands on ‘Right to Work’ for women, implementation of MNREGA and issues of women in the unorganised and informal sectors, according to the situation in the districts and states. AIDWA delegations will submit and discuss this charter of demands with the tehsildar/collector on December 19, Susheela Gopalan Memorial Day.
STRUGGLE FOR FOOD SECURITY
The implementation of the National Food Security Act (NFSA) is in doldrums. The public distribution system is being systematically dismantled. Compulsion of the Aadhaar card has reduced the number of beneficiaries under the NFSA. Many eligible poor families are being removed from the beneficiaries list. The distribution of sugar has been stopped in ration shops. Now the government is trying to introduce the ‘direct cash subsidy’ in the PDS too. AIDWA has decided to take up struggles for food security much more vigorously.
The central poster exhibition prepared by AIDWA on communist women freedom fighters has been a grand success in all states. People have enthusiastically participated in all the programmes that were held. The CEC decided to publish a booklet based on this exhibition which includes the brief life sketches of these leaders, by the year end.
LAWS RELATED TO WOMEN
Adv Kirti Singh lucidly explained the different aspects of the impleadment petitions that AIDWA has filed in the Supreme Court against weakening of rape laws and in the Delhi High Court on recognition of marital rape as a crime. She also explained the Supreme Court order on section 498A which promoted the formation of ‘Family Welfare Centres’ to look into complaints under this section. The hotly debated issue of ‘consent’ was also explained. There was a lively and animated discussion on these issues. Kirti patiently heard the numerous questions of CEC members and clarified their doubts. State committees will organise similar discussions/workshops on legal issues to educate our activists on our stand on the different laws.
Sub-committee meetings were held during the CEC meeting and some of the suggestions of the sub-committees were accepted by the CEC. State committees will include these decisions in their agenda and guide their sub-committees in taking up those issues. The convenors will pro-actively intervene in the issues of their sub-committees and keep regular contact with the centre to ensure proper coordination.
The July-September 2017 issue of AIDWA’s Hindi journal Samya and AIDWA Perspectives in English were distributed to the states in this meeting.
The statewise membership figures were placed by Sathi Devi. The total membership for 2017 deposited at the all India centre so far is 79,76,858. It was decided that all state committees must pay serious attention to this task, complete their membership targets and send their levy to the centre before the next CEC meeting in January.
The CEC decided to coopt the newly elected office bearers of Telangana - President B Sarala and Secretary M Laxmi as invitees to the CEC.
The next meeting of the CEC will be held on January 8-9-10, 2018 in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. The central secretariat will be held at 11 am on January 8 and the CEC will begin at 4 pm the same day and will end on January 10 by 2 pm.