People's Democracy

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


No. 14

April 07, 2013




AISGEF Holds Fourth Women Employees Convention  


R Muthusundaram


THE All India State Government Employees Federation (AISGEF) organised its fourth national convention of women employees at Barabati Stadium in Cuttack (Odisha) on March 17 and 18, 2013.  The Odisha State Government Employees Coordination Committee and Women Subcommittee, an affiliate of the AISGEF, hosted the convention.




The convention commenced with the flag hoisting by AISGEF chairman R G Karnik, followed by floral tributes at the martyrs column. The convention saw the participation of 285 women delegates and 50 male observers representing 19 affiliated organisations in 16 states. After the inaugural song by an Odisha troupe, reception committee secretary Nirmal Das delivered the welcome address.


The presidium which conducted the proceedings consisted of AISGEF chairman R G Karnik, senior vice  chairman Sukomal Sen, Asha Kalra (Rajasthan), P Lalitha Kumari (AP NGO Association), Rechel (Telangana NGO Union), Bindu Kumari (Bihar), Savita (Haryana), Asha Jha (Jharkhand), P D Sridevi (Kerala), Sheetal Gupte (Maharashtra), Rajalakshmi Jena (Odisha), B S Prasanna (Tamilnadu), Ratna Sarkar (Tripura) and Reba Mukherjee (West Bengal).


Ms Sarithanjali Bohidar, reader in the Calicut University, inaugurated the convention. In her brilliant inaugural address, she historically traced the patriarchal system in India which subdues the role of women in society and the gender discrimination prevailing in our society. She further added that the struggle for equal footing with men in all spheres is to be carried out not only by women but by men also. For this purpose, both men and women in our society need to be brought out of the anachronistic feudal outlook.


R G Karnik, in his presidential address, narrated various steps taken by the AISGEF to bring women employees into trade union activities. He pointed out that even though many of the Supreme Court judgements have given detailed instructions for the protection of women employees, the governments at the centre as well as in various states have not carried out those instructions adequately.


A R Sindhu, general secretary of the All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers, greeted the convention. She narrated how the central government and various state governments are subjecting the working women to severe exploitation. A large number of women workers are being employed in several of the central government schemes, but they are not treated as workers. Being designated as volunteers, activists or social workers, they are not paid wages commensurate to the work they are doing; rather very meagre sums are being paid to them in the name of honorarium. Moreover, this obnoxious precedent emboldens the private sector to inhumanly exploit the women workers. She further insisted that trade unions need to organise the women workers not only against their exploitation but also to fight all sorts of freely launched and rampant atrocities against women in their workplaces in particular and in the society in general. She put it on record how the CITU is striving all-out in this direction through the All India Coordination Committee of Working Women, while stating that women workers today account for 26 per cent of the CITU membership and that women are in the leadership in many affiliated unions of the CITU.




B S Jalaja (Kerala) and Sutapa Hazra (West Bengal) presented the discussion paper of the convention in English and Hindi respectively.


In the convention, 39 women delegates spoke on the various issues that have an impact on Indian women in general and the working women in particular. The deliberations were spirited and emotional, expressing their anguish against the present social order which is the root cause of the discrimination against women. Many delegates narrated the activities of the women subcommittees in their states. The delegates said the sufferings of the working women in the social, economical, political and cultural arenas have are further exacerbated under the neo-liberal regime.


M Girija, joint secretary of the South Zone Insurance Employees Association (affiliated to the All India Insurance Employees Association), also greeted the convention. In her speech she traced the various modes in which harassment is unleashed against women not only in the workplaces but in their homes also. Male chauvinism is prevailing not only among males; women too are steeped in it. When women were subjected to sexual harassment and rape, politicians and religious fundamentalists try to accuse the victims themselves. In the era of neo-liberal globalisation, consumerism has opened the gates wide for indecent presentations of women body. They are out to dilute even the observations of the International Women’s Day. Corporate giants have begun to offer discounts and concessions on the day on the purchase of articles by women and thereby they are trying to convert it into a day of hollow celebrations while ignoring the women’s and particularly the working women’s struggles and sacrifices the world over. The large recruitment of women workers in the central government schemes and government departments on temporary, casual and contract basis is a new type of exploitation of working women. The trade unions have to launch relentless struggles for the regularisation of their services and for ensuring that adequate, rational and reasonable salaries are paid to them. These struggles must have the maximum possible participation of men and women workers alike. Women workers’ participation and involvement in trade union activities and their entry into the leadership positions must increased manifold. For this purpose, trade unions have to chalk out special programmes.


AISGEF senior vice chairman Sukomal Sen focussed on the main issues facing women in general and the working women in particular. He stressed the need for organising the women, educating them and bringing them up to the leadership position. He explained how emancipation and empowerment of women could not be achieved without fighting the feudal outlook and patriarchal social order and without imbibing a scientific temperament.




AISGEF general secretary R Muthusundaram summed up the discussion. He urged the affiliate organisations to convert the women subcommittees into functional organisations in their respective states. He pointed out that though the AISGEF constitutionally reserves one third of the national level Executive Committee positions for women members, their 100 per cent presence in its meetings from certain states has not yet been ensured. This issue has to be self-critically reviewed by the respective state level affiliates, so as to correct it in future. If due seriousness is bestowed on ensuring the viable functioning of women subcommittees in the states, the participation of women employees in movements and their number in leading positions would definitely increase; thus strengthening the struggles of the organisation.


R Muthusundaram also exposed the attitude of the NDA as well as the UPA, saying that they are very much interested in the implementation of neo-liberal policies in the interest of the Indian and foreign corporates but are least concerned about the passage of the bill for 33 per cent reservation of seats for women in parliament and state legislatures. He explained that people cannot hope to get their rights out of the benevolence or mercy of the state power; these need to be snatched from the unwilling hands of the government by relentless struggles.


The convention decided to incessantly propagate the following major issues among women employees and organise them in trade union activities for their realisation.


1) Equal status for women in political, economic, social and trade union arenas, including property rights, and their empowerment through their representation in state legislatures, parliament and other elected bodies.

2) No discrimination between men and women employees in workplaces and in regard to all service matters.

3) Ensuring the safety of women employees in workplaces and in the society in general.

4) Stop to the increasing sexual violence against women.

5) Condemnation of the glorification of barbarous practice of sati and such other practices that undermines the women’s position.

6) Fight against the ignominious dowry system and other forms of oppression like female foeticide and domestic violence.

7) Fight against commodification and vulgar presentation of women for commercial purposes in electronic as well as print media.

8) Strong opposition to child marriages that violate the law of the land; support to progressive social reform movements.

9) Fight against all sorts of castiest oppression, particularly on dalits, against superstitious practices, oppressive religious customs, all sorts of conservative attitudes, communal and religious fundamentalist ideologies.

10) Setting up of crèches for the children of women employees in all towns and where clusters of offices exist.

11) Construction of separate clean toilets and restrooms for the women employees.

12) Fostering of a scientific temperament and rational outlook among both men and women.

13) Fight against globalisation, privatisation, downsizing, casualisation and contractisation, high level corruption and skyrocketing price-rise of all essential commodities, of which women are the first victims.

14) Fight against widespread loot of the country’s wealth by    multinationals, corporate houses and imperialist aggression.

The convention came to a conclusion with a vote of thanks and chorus singing of “We shall Overcome.”