People's Democracy

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


No. 28

July 14, 2013


                                                                AIDWA   to Intensify Struggle For

                                                            Women’s Security & Democratic Rights


Sudha Sundararaman


THE two-day central executive committee meeting of the AIDWA, held in Delhi on June 22-23, took note of the alarming escalation in crimes against women as reflected in the NCRB data for 2012, and squarely blamed the UPA-2 government for its total failure to arrest this trend. It decided to intensify the struggle for proper implementation of recently passed laws for women, including amendments to the Criminal Law, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, and the Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at the Workplace Act. It called for widespread campaigns and interventions to ensure the right of women to safety both within and outside the home.     


The meeting was chaired during different sessions, by vice presidents Subhashini Ali, T N Seema, Rampari, and T Jyothi. Leading office bearers from West Bengal were unable to come as they were in the thick of a fierce battle to advance and safeguard democratic rights in the state. A resolution was passed against the complete breakdown of law and order under the Mamta Banerjee regime. While placing the resolution, Anwara Meerza stressed that the CM’s authoritarian and intolerant approach had led to a shameful situation wherein West Bengal was leading the whole country in the incidence of crimes against women. The meeting condemned the terror unleashed in West Bengal by the TMC, which was resorting to violent assaults on candidates, and physically preventing them from filing their nominations.  Such a strategy for winning the panchayat elections constituted a blot on the democratic traditions built up by the Left in the state. The CEC extended solidarity to the AIDWA leaders and activists in West Bengal who were courageously standing up to the repression, and pledged to strengthen the campaign in their support. 


A separate condolence resolution was passed for  Dr Vina Mazumdar, who passed away on May 30, 2013. The resolution recalled that Vina di had inaugurated the first and founding conference of the AIDWA in 1981 in Madras and remained a source of inspiration, guidance, and support for the organisation till the end.  


AIDWA CEC gave a call for joint meetings of women’s organisations to be held in her memory, so that the united interventions on important issues could be strengthened. It conveyed its condolence to the family members, almost all of whom were associated with the democratic movement in different capacities, and were contributing actively to the struggle for equality.   


The CEC also passed a resolution for the thousands who lost their lives in the floods that ravaged the hills of Uttarakhand.  The rampant corporatisation and over exploitation of resources in the hills had created the conditions for the disaster. The state government had not set in place a disaster mitigation strategy, nor recognised the importance of an eco friendly and people friendly development model. The death toll is still unknown. The CEC stressed that  mammoth  efforts would have to be undertaken by the state government to rehabilitate the local inhabitants, many of them from extremely poor and marginalised sections, who were eking out a livelihood from the itinerant tourist traffic.  AIDWA announced a fund collection drive to assist the affected families.  Rs 61,000 was raised immediately and handed over to Indu Naudiyal, the CEC member from Uttarakhand to start the process of relief and rehabilitation. States pledged to collect funds, and contribute to the best of their capacity. 




AIDWA general secretary, Sudha Sundararaman, placed the agenda with regard to the national conference. The organisation is gearing up to hold its tenth national conference in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, from November 22-25, 2013. The CEC warmly thanked the Bihar committee for agreeing to host the conference. The CEC observed that developments in Bihar always had a political impact on the national political scene, and assuredly, the conference would help to strengthen the democratic movement in the Hindi speaking states.  District and state conferences are already underway. The ongoing state conferences were replete with instances of women putting up a determined resistance to the multidimensional onslaught on their lives. The experiences and discussions highlighted the links between the impact of the neoliberal policy paradigm, increased trafficking and commodification of women, accompanied by a conservative backlash from reactionary forces as factors contributing  to increased violence against women. The conference slogan forged in this context sought to convey the multiple roots of violence against women and to strengthen women’s right to safety and security as a fundamental democratic, secular right. The logo upholds AIDWA’s commitment to : Confronting neoliberalism, combating conservatism, claiming our right to a violence free life.


Reports of the state conferences showed that women are strongly resisting the economic, social, political, and cultural  fallout of the anti-women policies. They were able to connect up the linkages underlying gender disparity and exploitation.  The CEC resolved that the greater exploitation of dalits, tribals, minorities, and those from marginalised groups, should be emphasised in the conferences, and taken up for sustained struggles. The involvement of youth must become a priority for the organisation. Not only were they the worst affected by the moral policing resorted to by fundamentalists, or by the efforts of casteist forces to clamp down on self choice marriages, etc, they were also the most vulnerable to the commodification trends that were fuelling a variety of sexual crimes, including through mobiles, social networking sites, and the proliferation of cyber crimes.


A preliminary discussion on the major developments since the last conference was held. Bihar CEC members reported about the venue, initial arrangements, and related matters. States also submitted their work reports, which brought out the diverse nature of issues on which AIDWA has intervened over the past few months. In most states, the joint struggles against violence on women had got a further impetus on the occasion of March 8, International Women’s Day, with working women adding their voice to the protest rallies and demonstrations across the country. 


The CEC was meeting after the historic victory of the Left in Tripura assembly polls, in which AIDWA women had a very significant role to play. The voting percentage at 93 percent was the highest ever, and women outnumbered men at the polling booths by 2.13 percent. Despite the vicious campaign by the anti Left forces, the fact that 50 out of 60 seats, with 52.3 percent votes, were won by the Left candidates was a remarkably positive mandate delivered by the people. All five women candidates won their seats. AIDWA extended hearty congratulations to the AIDWA members from Tripura for their tireless efforts in the election campaign.


AIDWA patron, Brinda Karat, contextualised the political situation as one where political alignments are changing, thereby altering the political landscape at the national level. The attempt by the BJP to project Narendra Modi as the only alternative has received a jolt after the JD(U) opted out of the NDA. However, the UPA may now feel emboldened to aggressively push the reform measures in the forthcoming session of parliament. The crucial importance of alternative policies has to be recognised, rather than the so-called good governance models, which hardly deal with the real problems of the people. She pointed out that the AIDWA will have to focus on the issues of concern for women, and mobilise them, through struggles,  around alternatives. She blasted the TMC government for its fascist approach, and said that women were having to fight elections in a situation of insecurity, with rapes, abductions, and violence having become a daily occurrence. She also criticised the Kerala government for the sexual violence that women are being subjected to by political bigwigs of the Congress party. Instead of helping them to get justice, the CM was supporting the perpetrators, and he should resign. She highlighted the alternative approach of the Tripura government to the issue of violence against women, where an all-party meeting was being called to discuss measures for tackling the problems. She stressed that the AIDWA national conference must pay heed to the targeting of Muslim youth, and AIDWA must give due importance to combat the incipient communal danger.    




The future tasks agenda was placed by national vice president Jagmati Sangwan. Along with the call for fund collection on Uttarakhand, and for a joint meeting to recall Vina Mazumdar’s contribution to the women’s movement, other important tasks included the following:

·                    Against price rise, for food and fuel security: Any attempt to pass an incomplete and flawed Food Insecurity Bill, whether during the next parliament session, or through an ordinance route, will be vehemently opposed.


The cuts in subsidy for kerosene and gas are leading to inflated prices of cooking fuel, substantially affecting the poor and middle class households.  AIDWA units will take up this issue for protest actions, between July 14, Kalindi Memorial Day, and July 24 - Vimal Ranadive Memorial day. Surveys being conducted in the districts where cash transfer has been announced would be consolidated. The local administration, relevant authorities, MPs, etc, are to be met with relevant demands. Centre will incorporate the state experiences and intervene at the central ministry level.

·                    Betrayal on 33 percent Women’s Reservation Bill: August 13 – black flag demonstrations. The AIDWA CEC has given a call for a national day of protest against the perfidy of the UPA-2 government with regard to the 33 percent Women’s Reservation Bill. Mass protest demonstrations are to be organised throughout the country, states must decide on the number of centres. Our independent voice on this issue must be raised effectively.

·                    Joint actions with DYFI & SFI: In continuation of our earlier combined struggles on violence against women, states must establish co ordination with the DYFI and SFI to take up the issues concerning young women in a sustained manner. The emphasis on education, employment, and women’s security, should be intensified, and cultural interventions around these issues should be enhanced.

·                    Law on equal marital property rights:   The CEC decided to hold a national consultation on the formulation of a law to provide equal marital property rights to both spouses. At a time when conservative forces are deliberately distorting the whole issue, and projecting the woman as wanting more than her fair share of property, this would ensure a timely intervention. In reality, most women suffer a great deal of discrimination and denial of rights with regard to marital property, and there should be a legal remedy available to them.


The meeting also condemned the terrible atrocity committed on women by the security personnel in the Kunak Poshpora rape case, in Jammu and Kashmir, and resolved to launch a joint movement demanding justice for the rape survivors.