People's Democracy

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


No. 22

June 02, 2013


DYFI Holds All India Young Women’s Convention


Preethy Sekhar


THE Democratic Youth Federation of India held its Fourth All India Young Women’s Convention in Mumbai on May 25-26. Apart from central executive committee members of the organisation, 94 delegates from various states assembled for the convention at Lakshmi Sehgal Nagar (Aarsh Vidyalaya Campus, Chembur).


The convention began with DYFI national president M B Rajesh hoisting the flag at the convention venue on 25th morning. Renowed economist Professor Utsa Patnaik inaugurated the convention. In her inaugural address, Professor Patnaik reminded the youth movement that a comprehensive fight against atrocities on women is inseparable from the fight against neo-liberal economic regime which is causing immense distress and gunger in our country. The advent of neo-liberal economic policies has pulled back hunger and malnutrition levels to those of colonial times. Women are the worst sufferers of this. Instead of reversing the policies which are causing misery to the people, the ruling establishment is displaying pathetic intellectual dishonesty in claiming that hunger and poverty levels are coming down. She explained the ridiculous nature of poverty line announced by  officialdom. Acute  poverty is compounded by rising unemployment of which women are the worst affected. Employment opportunities for women are becoming nearly absent in rural India. She drew attention to the structural changes taking place in the workforce of the nation as a result of neo-liberal economics. Decline of organised labour has meant weakening of the social agency that stood for an alternate ‘moral universe’ opposed to capitalism’s culture of objectifying women. This along with ‘lumpenisation’ not only of sections of working class but also of fractions of bourgeosie have a connection to the growing levels of atrocities against women. Eminent social activist Teesta Setalvad also spoke at the session which was chaired by M B Rajesh. CITU leader K L Bajaj and CPI(M) state secretary Ashok Dhawale were also present.


Several eminent women activists, writers and trade union leaders like Sandhya Nare Pawar,  Tapati Mukhopadhyaya,  Madhu Paranjape,  Armaity Irani, Shubha Shamim,  Sonya Gill and  Mariam Dhawale were felicitated at the inaugural session. 


DYFI general secretary Avoy Mukhopadhyay presented the draft resolution in the delegate session. He emphasised on  the intensifying gender-discrimination in the period of the “so-called reforms”, the responsibility of the youth movement on the question of gender equality and the need to improve the involvement of young women activists in our organisational activities. Group discussion was held in four groups namely, delegates from North Indian states, East & North-Eastern states, West India and South India.


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. The general discussion ended before noon on the second day. National vice-president Preethy Sekhar summed up the discussions after which the resolution was unanimously adopted. The resolution gave a clarion call to the entire youth movement to step-up the battle for gender-equality in a big way and called for orienting the entire organisation accordingly. Following are the major tasks set by the convention:


·                    Orient the entire organisation to take up the tasks outlined by our all-India conference namely: 1) Improve the functioning of young women subcommittees / teams at various levels. 2) Fulfil the target of enrolling 30 per cent membership of young women in the organisation, 3) Counter the  spread of obscurantism, superstitious practices which specially affect women and act as a barrier in the fight against women’s subordination. 4) Conduct a sustained campaign against communal and fundamentalist forces and their ideology.


·                    Implement the decisions taken at the joint meeting of DYFI-SFI-AIDWA office-bearers  held in Delhi on March 21, 2013 namely: 1) anti-dowry campaign through seminars, discussions, general bodies upholding alternative practices 2)  combined interventions to assert the right to universal education identifying and addressing problems among girls and young women at local level on this question.  c) Focus on security issues within institutions and local areas, demand anti-sexual harassment committees with representation from activist organisations, hold  workshops wherever possible. d) Strengthen joint intervention on cases of violence against women e) plan joint cultural events. f) enhance sports activities for girls g) take up state-specific tasks on possible issues for joint action.  h) set up co-ordination mechanisms at all levels to establish rapport between DYFI, SFI and AIDWA and work out common interventions; joint action committee of women, students and youth have to be formed in all states atleast to the district level. This will help in protesting such cases of atrocities in a more effective manner.


·                    Instruct all units to elect at least one young woman as an office bearer compulsorily.

The central exceutive committee put forward proposals for the following immediate programmes which was unanimoulsy accepted by the convention:


1.                    A full-fledged campaign against gender violence from July 1–7 across the country. This campaign should include issues like demand for the Women’s Reservation Bill and other required legal reforms,  spread of dowry, ‘honour’ killings, increasing incidents of female foeticide etc. Seminars, public meetings, etc will be held during this period in all districts in the country.

2.                    A signature campaign will also be initiated for submitting a mass memorandum to the prime minister of India demanding immediate and effective action on the cases of atrocities against women.

In connection with the convention, a musical event titled ‘ Kabir, Faiz or Hum’ was held on 25th evening in which poems of Kabir and Faiz Ahmed Faiz were rendered by renowned Hindustani singer Neela Bhagawat.


The convention ended with an attractive procession from the convention venue to Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar, Ghatkopar followed by a public meeting. CPI(M) Polit Bureau member M A Baby, M B Rajesh, Avoy Mukherjee, former DYFI leaders Mahendra Singh, Shailendra Kamble and AIDWA leader Mariam Dhawle spoke at the public meeting. M A Baby said that in a world were everything is made a commodity, women are also being seen as commodities. What we have in India today is hybridisation of commoditisation of women and Manuvaadi philosophy which sees women as slaves of men. He exhorted the youth movement to take on this lethal combination and work for building a gender-equal modern India.