People's Democracy

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


No. 35

September 01,2013


JMS Conference Calls for Intensifying Struggles

Archana Prasad

THE Eleventh Conference of the Delhi Janwadi Mahila Samiti was held from August 24-26, 2013. This conference was attended by 170 delegates from the National Capital Region who evaluated the work of the organisation in the last three years. These delegates took note of the changing political situation and made their interventions in the context of the upcoming Delhi assembly and the Lok Sabha elections. The conference was inaugurated by the vice president of AIDWA, Subhashini Ali, who underlined the patriarchal character of the communal threat that looms over the country. The AIDWA general secretary who addressed the meeting underlined the impact of the neo-liberal economic policies on women. They congratulated the JMS on the active leadership role that it had played in the protests after the December 16, 2012 rape case. The inaugural session was also addressed by representatives of different national and Delhi level women’s organisations like AIPWA, NFIW, Swastik Mahila Sangathan and JWP. Fraternal organisations like the DYFI and CITU also came to express their solidarity with the JMS. The visually impaired class XII topper Sana Samad (now studying at the Sriram College of Commerce) was honoured in the function and shared her experiences with the delegates.

The inaugural session was followed by the delegate session. The general secretary's report was placed by Sehba Farooqui who underlined the need to strengthen the organisation. The report covered the national and state level situation where the emergence of communal forces and the problems of price rise and increasing vulnerable conditions of the urban poor, especially women were focused upon. It also had a detailed analysis of the district wise functioning of the organisation. Four main future tasks were placed as a part of the report by the working president, Asha Sharma. These four are a continued campaign on ration and food security; intensification of the campaign for the rights of home based workers; combating the violence against women; and need to think of new and innovative ways of attracting young girls into the movement. The session ended with the delegates breaking for a post-dinner group discussion on different aspects of the report.

The delegate session on the morning of the second day started with a special lecture by Kirti Singh on the legal framework for tackling violence against women. This was followed by the delegate’s discussion of the secretary’s report. 35 delegates from eight districts and three organising committees presented their views of the report. The discussion focused on the ways in which the current economic and political situation was impacting on their lives. It also highlighted the need for further strengthening the links between the state centre and district committees. Cadre education and the need for follow up of the campaign on home based workers was highlighted by delegates from several districts. The young girl delegates also expressed the need to expand the work amongst youth and take up their issues, particularly on safety and security. Two resolutions on price rise and against communalism were also passed in this delegate session.

In the post lunch session, the delegates were divided into three groups to discuss three different commission papers. The first commission paper was prepared and prepared by Asha Sharma and Maimoona Mollah. It concentrated on the flaws of a targeted PDS system and the problems with the guidelines for the implementation of the food ordinance in Delhi. The second commission paper on violence against women was presented by Kavita and Anju Jha. This paper defined violence in the widest possible terms and highlighted the need to address the problems of toilets for girl students in schools and legal education of the women. The third commission paper on home based workers was prepared and presented by Archana Prasad and Sehba Farooqui. The paper reviewed the work of the JMS in this area and noted the need to intensify the struggle for a comprehensive policy and welfare board for home based workers. The reports of these commissions contained pointers towards the future work plan on different campaigns in a plenary session that evening. Jan Natya Manch presented its play as part of a cultural programme at the end of the day.

The last day of the conference started with the general secretary Sehba Farooqui’s reply to the debate. She opined that she was very happy with the level of the debate and noted the change that had taken place in the last three years. She felt that the introspection done by the organisation would help it to move forward and address its weaknesses. Thereafter the credential report was placed by Jyoti Sabharwal and the accounts were placed by treasurer Anju Jha. The highlights of this session were the interventions of AIDWA patron, Brinda Karat and AIDWA vice president Jagmati Sangwan. Brinda Karat recounted her days in the JMS and highlighted the need to take up issues of working class women and attract young girls in the movement. Jagmati Sangwan exhorted the delegates to play a more active role in the organisation by bring about positive changes in their own lives.

The election of the new committee took place after these interventions amidst loud cheers. The new committee consists of 37 state committee members and a 13 member secretariat. The new secretariat members are: president: Sonya Varma; working president: Asha Sharma; vice presidents: Maimoona Mollah and Bharpai; general secretary: Sehba Farooqui; treasurer: Anju Jha; joint secretaries: Kavita, Asha Yadav, Bhagwan Devi, Madhu and Rajwati and two new secretariat members, Kiran (North Delhi) and Archana Prasad (state centre). Thirteen delegates were also selected for the all India AIDWA conference in November.

The concluding speech of the conference was delivered by the AIDWA all India general secretary Sudha Sundararaman. She first congratulated the organisation for a successful conference and outlined some of the future tasks. These concentrate largely on strengthening membership through innovative work and also taking up new issues to expand the organisation. The conference ended with a resolve to intensify the campaign against neo-liberal policies and communal forces. It particularly resolved to intensify its struggle on food security (for ration), rights of home based workers, the need to organise and take up issues of young girls and combat the increasing violence against women.