101st International Women’s Day
“Empower Rural Women-End Hunger and Poverty”
8th March is celebrated as International Women’s Day all over the world. It is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women in the past, the present and the future. International Women’s day recognizes and honors the selfless sacrifices made by millions in the struggle to liberate women from exploitation, deprivation, destitution and oppression. It celebrates the success and reminds us of the inequalities persisting, still to be redressed. On this historic occasion, we extend our warm greetings to all of you and convey our special greetings to all the women employees in our Zone.
This year marks the 101st year of the international women’s day. Today when the world is observing the international women’s day, two themes that are projected have literally caught the imagination of one and all - “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures” and “Empower Rural Women-End Hunger and Poverty”. Let us make an objective analysis of these themes and co-relate it to the developments that are occurring in modern India. We are witnessing a new culture that has developed under neo-liberalism which in a way is systematically comodifying human values and relationships. Women in particular are being treated as commodities and projected in the most degrading fashion. Technological advancement has contributed to newer forms of exploitation like cyber crimes and the legal frame work to deal with such crimes are grossly inadequate. Illegal trafficking of women especially girl child, sexual abuse and honor killings are on the rise.
The pundits of neo liberal policies claim that the globalization has resulted in empowerment of women. They substantiate their claim with the growth of feminization in workforce. 40% of workforce in the world is women and 43% of agriculture workers are women. However, the women are discriminated in terms of wages, in promotions etc. Oppression and exploitation of women in workplace is rampant. Women are forced to work for longer hours for lesser pay. In the SEZ, the women are compelled to work without even basic facilities. The neo liberal policies which are aggressively being pursued by the Congress led UPA-2 government has adversely affected the lives and living conditions of millions of common people, particularly the women. The spiraling price rise of essential commodities, inflation, hunger, unemployment and poverty etc. are compounding to the sufferings of common people. With the job opportunities in agriculture sector shrinking, the rural folk are forced to migrate to cities in search of jobs for their livelihood which is also adding burden on the women. The government is doing precious little for empowerment of women in our country. In fact, the government is the greatest exploiter of women workforce. Millions of women are working in variousgovernment projects like ICDS as anganawadi workers, mid day meal workers and in rural health mission as ASHA workers and the government is not even paying them salary or providing proper service conditions. They are being paid pittance as ‘honorarium’. There is no proper social security for the unorganized workers and lakhs of domestic workers, mainly women, are not even treated as workers.
The government is not keen in pushing for the women’s reservation bill providing 33% reservation to women in Parliament. In the Global gender index, out of 135 countries, India has slipped from 98 in 2006 to 113 in 2011. The parameters are labour participation, education, health and survival. According to Census 2011, the child sex ratio has come down to just 914 females for 1000 males, the lowest since independence. It is horrifying to note that during the last one decade there is a drop of 13 percent. The attack on women is also increasing. The health of Indian women presents grim picture. According to a report, 86% of girls and women are anemic, 92% of women suffer from gynecological problems and 38% of HIV patients in India are women. It is shocking that 300 women die everyday due to pregnancy related complications and only 46.2% of deliveries are attended by the trained personnel.
Be it as it may, when we look at the situation around us, we are extremely happy to note that more and more women are participating in the struggle against neo liberal policies across the globe. In our own industry, we are extremely happy to note that the conscious decision of AIIEA to organize women in to trade union activity is yielding desired results. Many women comrades are actively participating in the trade union work and are leading our movement at various levels. The involvement of women in decision making process has contributed to the growth of organization. Our women sub-committees at divisions are taking out various activities apart from observing International Women’s Day.
In fine, empowerment of women is crucial for empowerment of a nation. Just as a chariot has two wheels, men and women are the two wheels of a nation. Both have to be equally strong for a balanced and holistic national development. Throughout the history, women have exhibited exceptional capabilities and have been inspirational to the others. Women in modern in modern India can play an important role, by high-lighting issues vital to their progress and growth and launching campaign against social practices that are detrimental to women and the girl child.
Let us March forward together in our struggles for emancipation and empowerment of women as the AIIEA strongly believes that “When the Women Move – The Nation Moves”.
Long Live International Women’s Day!!!
“Life lies in struggle, not in the clutches of forbearance
The pulse of existence is not nurtured by trembling tears” ---- Kaifi Azmi
Circular By :SCZIEF