The Ferozshah Kotla grounds in Delhi reverberated on March 8 with the united voice of thousands of women, men and youth against the war preparations of US imperialists against Iraq as well as
against crimes and injustices perpetrated against women every day. A colourful and militant demonstration, expressed the firm resolve of the participants to continue their struggle for a society where women are considered equal partners of men, and where all human beings are empowered to run the affairs of society in the interest of the vast majority of people.
Many women’s organisations and other organisations involved with various socio-political issues came together for the demonstration. Activists of Lok Raj Sangathan actively participated in the demonstration and distributed a joint statement of LRS and Purogami Mahila Sangathan condemning the war preparations and calling for the true empowerment of women. Among the prominent organisations present were AIDWA, AIPWA, Ankur, Action India, Sabla Sangh, NFIW, JWP, MDS, Saheli, Sama, Stri Adhikar Sangathan, nurses unions of AIIMS and RML, YWCA, CWDS, FORCES, EKATRA, Campaign against female foeticide, and Purogami Mahila Sangathan. Women and men from diverse backgrounds — workers, teachers, students, youth and professional women — enthusaistically took part in the march.
The demonstration wound its way down Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, to ITO and finally culminated in a rally at Mandi House. Hundreds of passers-by stopped to read the messages on placards and banners and expressed their solidarity with the demonstrators.
Highlighting the grim situation and the challenges facing the women’s movement today, the LRS statement declared that . . . “Women in India have to fight for a society where the rights of women, as women and as human beings, are inviolable; and so are the rights of all human beings. Secure livelihood, quality education and health care, safe drinking water, housing and sanitation, reliable supply of electricity and access to modern communication facilities must be considered among the inviolable rights of every member of society today. It is the solemn duty of the society and state to ensure that these rights are realised. What is needed is a system which recognises that: (i) all members of society have rights by virtue of being human; and (ii) society has an obligation to ensure human conditions of existence for each of its members.
“The existing political process in India has no means for reflecting the voice and aspirations of the broad masses of women in India. It defines being political as becoming the vote bank of this or that parliamentary party of the status quo. Women need to reject this narrow and erroneous definition of what constitutes being political. Women need mechanisms that increase the scope for their political activity and end their political marginalisation. The building and strengthening of sangharsh samitis in the mohallas and bastis, wherever women live or work, will be an important step in the direction of empowerment of women.
“The movement for the empowerment of the Indian people will not succeed until women constitute a vital part of this movement. The struggle of women in India for a life of dignity and equality cannot succeed until and unless it unites firmly with the movement of the workers and peasants against the existing economic and political system.”
A joint statement of women’s organisations issued on this occasion condemned the US-UK warmongering and America’s designs to create a unipolar world under its hegemony. It also condemned the communal and other forms of violence that the governments and political parties are unleashing against our people and women in particular. It asserted our right to livelihood and called on the government to fulfil its responsibility of providing food, shelter and livelihood to all.