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Shyamoli Gupta elected AIDWA president

Parvathi Menon



Shyamoli Gupta

Kanpur: The Ninth National Conference of the All-India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) came to a close on Friday with the election of 101 Central Executive Committee members from among the delegates.

In keeping with the three-term policy for office-bearers, Subhashini Ali was relieved from the post of president and Shyamoli Gupta from West Bengal was elected in her place. Sudha Sundararaman will continue as general secretary for another three-year term.

The conference unanimously resolved to intensify the resistance to the neo-liberal growth model, strengthen struggles for a universal public distribution system and for the rights of the organised and unorganised sector, resist the privatisation of education, health, and social security, and prevent exploitation of women through SHGs. It called upon the organisation to strengthen the campaign against all forms of conservatism and defend the rights of young people to choose their partners, and combat the communal and fundamentalist offensive.

Particular emphasis was laid in defence of the Left women's movement in West Bengal. It called upon AIDWA units to “effectively counter the vicious anti-Left offensive being unleashed by the ruling classes, particularly in West Bengal by the Maoist-Trinamool Congress combine.” The organisation has pledged to take up, in the coming three years, “specific forms of oppression being faced by Dalit, Minority and Adivasi women, on a priority basis, and focus on the problems of the youth and single women.”

In addition, it will “build an effective campaign against multiple forms of violence against women and girl children, intensify actions against sex-selective abortions and dowry, as part of a larger mass movement to counter the combined impact of patriarchy and growing consumerism, work for recognition of matrimonial property rights and other legal rights.” It resolved to intervene against commercialised media and the marketisation of rituals and religiosity, and create cultural alternatives to strengthen the secular and democratic fabric of India.

At a public meeting held at Ghanta Ghar in Kanpur, which the local Bharatiya Janata Party unit tried to stop allegedly with the help of police, AIDWA vice-president Brinda Karat called for a fight against the policies of neo-liberalism as followed by the United Progressive Alliance led by Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi. “If a family works for three days in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme they would be considered to be above the official poverty line, and hence could not access the provisions of the proposed Food Security Act. On the other hand, the salaries of Members of Parliament have been increased ten-fold.”

Ms. Subhashini Ali, former AIDWA President, pointed out that despite a Dalit woman being Chief Minister in Uttar Pradesh and prevailing government rules, Shanti, a Dalit cook in a primary school, was removed owing to upper caste pressure. AIDWA took up the issue and ensured that she was reinstated.

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