Vol. XLII No. 15 April 15, 2018

Young Women’s Convention Resolves to Build a Gender-Equal Youth Movement

Preethy Sekhar

THE Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) has resolved to step-up progressive youth’s struggle for gender equality. All India Young Women’s Convention organized by the DYFI central executive committee in Chennai from April 1-3 has charted out a plan of action towards this end.

Apart from the CEC members, 97 delegates from various states took part. The convention began on April 1 with the garlanding of Ambedkar statue, an impressive procession from Vyasarpadi to Mahakavi Bharathi Nagar followed by a public meeting. DYFI national president PA Mohamed Riyas, general secretary Avoy Mukherjee, vice president Deepa, joint secretaries Bala Velan and Preethy Sekhar and chairman of the reception committee, Mahendra spoke at the public meeting. 

Seema Mustafa, eminent journalist and editor, inaugurated the delegates session on April 2 morning at Salvation Army premises, near Chennai Central Railway station. In her inaugural address, she reminded the youth movement that a comprehensive fight against atrocities on women is inseparable from the fight against neo-liberal economic regime and against communalisation of state and society. Patriarchy is central to right wing ideology. She exhorted the youth movement to take on this lethal combination and work for building a gender-equal modern India. She said that the Gujarat riots changed the anatomy of communal violence.  Not even pregnant women were spared. Half widows of Kashmir is another example of grave injustice to women. What we have in India today is hybridisation of commoditisation of women and Manuvaadi philosophy which sees women as slaves of men. Patriarchy doesn’t spare women among the professional strata and elite circles. She pointed out as an example that no media house in India has a woman as chief editor because all media houses are owned by corporates and they are invariably patriarchal.

Several eminent women activists, writers and artists like Manushi, poetess who won the Yuva Puraskar of Sahitya Akademi, Kausalya, one of the victims in a horrific case of honour killing, Malini, director of a short film “Ladies and Gentlewomen”, Uma Maheshwari, an educationist and Ramya, a young painter were felicitated during the convention. Several cultural performances were also organised.

A draft resolution was presented by Preethy Sekhar. The resolution outlined growing gender discrimination in the society, its underlying socio-cultural context and concrete tasks before the youth movement to carry forward the struggles for equality. In the general discussion that followed, delegates reported ground level situation regarding the condition of women and shared the experiences of struggles against gender discrimination and atrocities. Avoy Mukherjee replied to various points and summed up the discussions after which the resolution was unanimously adopted.

The convention gave a clarion call to the entire youth movement to step-up the battle for gender equality in a big way. The youth movement will be in the forefront to resist the oppressive patriarchal order which surfaces in various ideological and socio-economic forms like honour killings, rape, acid attacks, moral policing, restriction on movement, sexual exploitation at workplace, unequal wages, spread of dowry system, female foeticide etc. Crimes against women are major components of caste oppression and communal violence. DYFI will mobilise the youth to fight these cruelties and injustices and also strive for legal reforms and social changes necessary to facilitate the rise of a gender equal society.

An essential aspect of DYFI’s approach is to mould the democratic youth movement itself as a platform of uncompromising gender equality. DYFI has adopted a new set of organisational norms and practices aimed at improving participation and leadership role of young women at various levels. The organisation will fulfil the target of enrolling 20 per cent membership from among young women and will ensure that the committees at all levels would have 20 per cent young women and that at least two young women should be office bearers in all committees as per the constitutional amendments adopted in the 10th all India conference. A 15-member subcommittee was formed with Preethy Sekhar as convener to steer the implementation of these tasks. Young women’s convention decided to achieve these organisational goals at a fast pace and set higher targets later.

Young women activists and DYFI CEC members will take the message of this convention to every state and prepare the entire DYFI organisation for many more battles against cruelties of patriarchy enmeshed in brutalities of  unbridled commoditisation and politics of communal hatred.