Every year, 8th march is observed as the international women’s day in remembrance of the strike that took place in New- York in 1908 by the International Ladies Garment workers union. However, in spite of the long drawn movement, the struggle for equal rights is not over!
This year, as we commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Dr Ambedkar and 125th death anniversary of Phule, the need has arisen to once again come together and fight for the rights granted to us by the Constitution.
Our constitution guarantees the right to freedom of movement, speech and expression to all its citizens. However, the suicide of Rohith Vemula, the sedition charges thrust upon the students of JNU, the Dadri lynching all point of to the deliberate attempt by the right wing Government to take away or suppress these rights. The Government of ‘progressive’ Maharashtra has also been upfront in imposing restrictions on the people with regards to the food they eat, what they wear and the banning of entry of women in Temple and Mosques. The rising inflation & unemployment, inability to tackle with the draughts in Maharashtra, the repealed land laws in the favor of the property owing class, all adversely impact the poor sections of the society. Within them, women tend to be the worst sufferers.
Hence, on the occasion of International women’s day, 27 right based organizations decided to come together and rally as a protest against the authoritarian policies of the government that are threatening our fundamental rights. Women across different classes, different castes and communities had joined the rally which started at to make their voices heard. They were demanding their rights, which are long due and are violated afresh by the series of regressive diktats and non implementation of existing laws.
The rally of more than 500 women and students was a glimpse into the anger that has accumulated all across the society by the suppression of the constitutional values!
Some of the demands raised by the women are-
- Strict action must be taken against those who violate the fundamental rights and freedoms granted to the people by the constitution of India.
- The strict implementation of the P.C.P.N.D.T law to prevent the declining sex ratio and protection of the reproductive rights and laws for women
- To strengthen the implementation of laws that prevent violence against women and have adequate allocation in the gender budget for it
- To allocate 6% in the gender budget for the health facilities of women and children
- To implement the right to education act in private and government schools, and execute that seats reserved for students from deprived sections are filled
- Building safer and clean public toilets for women and girls at the major public places in the city
- The proper and strict implementation of the laws that prevent sexual harassment of women and girls in schools, colleges and workplaces.
- To build more safer and well equipped rehabilitation centers for women and girls and sufficient allocation in the gender budget for the same
- Women and girls should be entitled to have safe environment in public places
- Strict action must be taken against those who indulge in provocative speeches, programs or propaganda that instigate communal/caste/regional violence
- Democratic & just legal remedies should be reached out to the deprived and exploited sections of the society
- Abolition of section 377 of IPC
The rally ended at Amar Hind Mandal, with the inspiring women’s movement songs, speech by Suhasini Ali, President of AIDWA and Urmila Salunkhe from Akshara.
Suhasini Ali criticized the present government policies in her speech, she spoke about Ration /PDC system, Aadhar cards, and LPG gas subsidies which are very much connected to the daily life of women.
Urmila Salunkhe “it is true that women’s rights movement is confronted with new challenges by the repressive policies of the government. At the same time however, the older and basic issues have also not been resolved! We still have an uneven sex ration. Women still face domestic abuse and violence in large numbers. Issues related to safety in public places still remains to be at the core of the problems”.
Liberation of women from the shackles of patriarchy was the theme of the songs that Anshla lead our girls in singing after the after the speeches. The songs reflected the sentiments that the women carried with them throughout the rally!
As a rightful conclusion to the rally, a play ‘Samatekade Vatchal’ was performed, which traced the entire history of women’s emancipation in India.
8th march international Women’s Day Zindabad!
Akshara, Aseem, Awaaz-E-Niswaan, Akhil Bhartiya Janwadi Mahila Sanghatana, CORO, DOSTI Project, FORUM, Kamkaji Mahila Samanvay Samiti, Kusumtai Chaudhari Mahila Kalyani, Lebiya, Kshamata, Mahila Ani Mulinkarta Sahayak Kaksha, Majlis, Vacha, SNEHA, Stree Mukti Sankhatna, Savitribai Phule Gender Resource Centre, Population First, YWCA, Urja, Maharashtra Mahila Parishad, Upnalay, Lawyers Collective, Yuva, 1298 Helpline.