On 8th March, over a thousand strong marched from Rajiv Chowk in the capital to Jantar Mantar. Banners fluttered and the air was filled with many slogans; some of which were:
“We want Azadi – from exploitation, from Capitalism, from repression and oppression!”
“Women’s emancipation means dignity for men!”
“Attack on women is attack on society!”
“Repeal AFPSA, and other black laws such as UAPA!”
The march was organised by over 24 organisations (Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression, TARSHI, Swastika Mahila Samiti, Society for Labour & Development, Samarthyam, SAMA, Saheli, Rashtriya Dalit Mahila Andolan, Rahi Foundation, Purogami Mahila Sangathan, No More Campaign, Nirantar, Nazariya, National Federation of Indian Women, NAB- Centre for Blind Women, Joint Women’s Programme, Feminist Approach to technology, Feminism India, Deaf Way Foundation, Centre for Advocacy & Research, Azad Foundation, All India Progressive Women’s Association, Action India and AIDWA).
The gathering was addressed by many speakers representing these organisations, besides songs and short skits.
The speakers in essence reiterated the long struggle waged by women and the victories that have been won. The need to carry forward the struggle, the challenges ahead and the need for unity amongst all sections of the oppressed and exploited for a resounding victory was voiced by almost all the speakers. It was also pointed out that because we ask and demand our rights we (whether it be students, adivasis, working women, etc.) are called desh drohis! When in actual fact, no party in power has worked in our interest all these years, and the capitalists continue to exploit us, continue to plunder our resources and army rule continues to oppress the people, rape women and commit the worst crimes in J & K, in Chhattisgarh, in Manipur and the North East. These parties who rule us are nothing but managers of the government for capitalists, we have to change this system if we want progress and true liberation of women and society.
Soni Soren also spoke and appealed to all women to join hands with the struggles of Adivasi women across the country, in defence of their land, resources and dignity. She exhorted everyone to call for the punishment of those who commit crimes against women and to oppose the terrorism unleashed by the state and its forces. Shehla Rashid spoke of the JNU struggle and the wide support that has been evident, as people across sections acknowledge the right to dissent. The fact that the struggle of the students is not separate from the struggle of the workers, Dalits, adivasis and all the oppressed was stressed and explained.
The entire event was marked by unity of all who had gathered who with one voice vowed to carry on their struggles with determination and without let up.
Purogami Mahila Sangathan Representative speaking at the occassion