People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Vol. XXX

No. 12

March 19, 2006

AIDWA: Saga Of 25 Years Of Struggle


Papa Umanath releasing a booklet listing some of the important AIDWA-led campaigns on various issues


THE 25th anniversary of the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), which has the distinction of being the largest women’s organisation in the country with a membership of more than 90 lakh in 22 states, was celebrated on March 12, 2006 on the V P House lawns.


After hoisting the AIDWA flag, president Subashini Ali paid homage to the many martyrs of the organisation who laid down their lives in the struggle against terrorism, against anti-national separatists, against landlords and capitalists goons and in the course of struggles to improve the lives of poor women and their families. Their struggles and their sacrifices have inspired the innumerable leaders and activists of the organisation all over the country.


The AIDWA founders, Papa Umanath, a veteran of militant working class movements before and after independence who spent many of her youthful years in prison and has been in the forefront of the women’s movement for decades and Mallu Swarajyam, a heroine of the pre-Independence Telengana armed peasants struggle and an indefatigable fighter for the rights of women and of the poor were present on this occasion. Pappa Umanath released a small booklet, brought out especially for the occasion, listing some of the important AIDWA-led campaigns on issues like food, water, employment and land. She presented the first copy to Dr Vina Mazumdar, one of the pioneers of the Women’s Studies movement in the country who had inaugurated the founding conference of AIDWA in Chennai, Tamilnadu in March 1981.


Representatives from the national women’s organisations with whom AIDWA has a long and rich history of co-operation – Jyotsna Chatterjee (JWP), Mary Khemchand (YWCA), Primila Loomba (NFIW), Suman Krishnakant (MDS), and Syeeda Hamid (Muslim Women’s Forum) – extended their greetings on the occasion. Representatives of CITU, AIKS, AIAWU, DYFI and SFI greeted AIDWA on this happy occasion.


Brinda Karat, who was a most inspiring and path-breaking general secretary of AIDWA for several years and who is now its vice-president and MP, gave a stirring key note address highlighting AIDWA’s understanding of the women’s question and of the challenges that would have to be addressed in the future. She emphasised  the great need for joint actions in the face of the assault of imperialist globalisation and the renewed danger of communalism and the multi-dimensional violence that they engender. She assured the meeting that AIDWA would take all steps that were necessary for this.


Janam, the well-known street-theatre group, staged a play “Aurat” which depicts the inequalities and exploitation faced by women in different stages of their lives and demonstrates that collective and organised struggle is the only way to change this.


Sudha Sundararaman, general secretary of AIDWA, reiterated AIDWA’s commitment to challenging the status quo, and fighting for justice with interventions at various levels. She thanked all those who had come to the meeting for their participation and support. The meeting ended with a group song performed by the group Parcham. (INN)