People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 18, 2007
International Women’s Day Celebrated
WOMEN’S organsiations – AIDWA, NFIW, CWDS, YWCA, FORCES, SAMA, WCSRC, PMS, Savirti Bai Phule Mahila Sangathan, Mahila Jagriti Samiti, Swastik Mahila Samiti, Nirmala Niketan, Nirman Mazdoor Panchayat Sangam, National Forum of Dalit Women, Nurses’ Union RML, Nirantar and Saheli – jointly held an impressive march on March 8, marking the international women’s day.
Carrying banners, festoons, placards and slogans women from all walks of life, belonging to different parts of Delhi, enthusiastically participated in the march in large numbers.
Later it was converted into a demonstration in which they raised slogans demanding the early passage of the Women’s Reservations Bill, steps to check the declining sex ratio, to improve the public distribution system and to stop the facilities given to the business community for forward trading
The participants also voiced their protest against rising prices and anti-poor policies being pursued by the UPA government in the name of globalisation and liberalisation. There was a strong demand for speedy implementation of the Common Minimum Programme, especially provisions pertaining to women; and security for women in Delhi.
The rally began from Mandi House and culminated in a public meeting at Jantar Mantar.
Leaders of the various participating women’s organisations spoke on the occasion. They called upon women to unitedly struggle for women’s rights, which are increasingly being threatened today.
AIDWA vice president and MP Brinda Karat strongly condemned the delaying tactics of the UPA government in passing the Women’s Reservation Bill. She informed that members of Left parties strongly raised this issue in the parliament on the occasion of International Women’s Day and prime minister Manmohan Singh has assured the House to present the bill in the coming session.
Asha Lata, general secretary of Janwadi Mahila Samiti, Delhi raised concern at the alarming decline in child sex ratio in the country in general and Delhi in particular. She asked for a proper implementation of the PNDT Act.
Annie Raja, general secretary, NFIW, demanded strengthening and regularisation of Public Distribution System. The speakers also expressed their concern at the growing trends towards fundamentalism and communalism especially in the BJP ruled states, of which women are the main targets.
Others who spoke included, Kalpana David from YWCA, Vijay Bala from JWP, Indu Agnihotri from CWDS, Kusum Sehagl of Swasthik Mahila Samiti, Sucharita of Purogami Mahila Sangathan, Lata from Nirmala Niketan, Anita from National Forum of Dalit Women, AIWC, Nurses’ Union, Nirman Mazdoor Panchayat Sangam and KrantiKari Mahila Sangam etc.
Kiran Arora from Mehka Aangan convened the proceedings of the meeting.
The enthusiasm of women was reflected in the songs they sang.
DUJ ANNOUNCES MEDIA GENDER COUNCIL
A 32-member gender council for media was constituted to mark International Women’s Day by members of the Delhi Union of Journalists on March 7, 2007. It would have equal representation for women and male members and would concentrate on professional issues such as depiction of women in the media and manifold forms of exploitation.
The three hour long meeting was presided by veteran journalist, Indian Journalist Union founder member and DUJ treasurer Sujata Madhok, who would be the chairperson of the council. The gender council was constituted as an extension of the decision of the general body on January 13, 2007 and bearing in mind the DUJ’s role since the late 70’s in projecting gender issues – not merely as projects but based on Indian realities.
Speaker after speaker castigated the current media obsession with the Liz Hurley-Arun Nayar extravaganza and urged their colleagues to “Stop Selling trivia like the Big Fat Indian Weddings”. Wedding spending adds to the dowry burden that most Indians can ill afford, they said. Consequently daughters will be seen as even more of a burden, leading to an escalation in female foeticide and a falling sex ratio.
Both men and women journalists agreed to take up progressive issues through the media and to question media bias and distortions. The members of the gender council reaffirmed their commitment to raise social development problems through the council as well as their professional work. They gave a strong call for equal treatment and an end to all forms of discrimination against women in the media.
The DUJ president S K Pande reported “our announcement of a DUJ gender council, has already received messages of solidarity from five state journalist bodies who wish to identify and exchange ideas with us. “The process has begun,” he said.
In a resolution that was passed to mark this historic day, symbolising the political struggles of ordinary women, the DUJ-gender council recalled crucial role played by the Indian women’s movement in bringing the realities of women to the fore. Recalling the historic struggle for political, social and economic equality launched over a century ago by ordinary women industrial workers and the first international women’s day established by the Socialist International in 1910, the gender council observed that there was a lot to learn from that historical experience especially as these issues were more than relevant even today. Issues pertaining to working conditions of women were far more relevant today, in the era of post-liberalisation.
The DUJ-gender council noted with concern that though a large number of women had gained employment in both the print and the electronic media, there had been very little change in the fundamental attitudes towards women and their work. It was noted that despite their growing presence, stereotypes regarding women still persisted.
The gender council felt that media organisations must be sensitive towards women’s issues in a more holistic and comprehensive manner and should immediately constitute institutional mechanisms within the workplace in order for their women employees to achieve their full potential.