NCCI observes March 8: International Women’s Day

March 2, 2012 by  
Filed under National, newsletter-india

womenIndia, March 01, 2012: March 8 symbolizes the struggle of women all over the world for rights that they have been denied as human beings. In 1857 women textile workers in the United States went on strike demanding a wage increase and reduction of working hours from sixteen to ten hours daily. In 1908 again women workers in the textile mills in New York came out in a protest procession once more demanding a reduction in working hours from   16 to 10, for healthy working environments and universal adult franchise. The leading socialist leader Kiara Zetkin in a tribute to these struggling proposed that March 8 be observed in all socialist states as Women’s Day in 1910. The first ever International Women’s Day was observed spontaneously by working class women in 1911. Since then the day has become synonymous with struggles and protests. In India the National Federation of Women were the first to observe 8th March in the fifties.

The establishment hijacking of March 8 brings new challenges for those women organizations who continue to remain anti establishment. The lack of mass base of the kind of economic and social inputs that are flaunted by social organizations, eat at the very process of survival of these groups who also face a tremendous shortage of dedicated and committed women. Their survival therefore depends entirely on how relevant they make themselves to the really exploited and oppressed women. The middle class background of their members and a lack of leadership at the grassroots level give these groups an elitist image that can only be overcome by taking up issues that benefit the ordinary working class women.

The example of 16 women organizations from Delhi who have demanded the setting up of a National Network of crèches and children services for working women belonging to poor rural and urban families is the kind which would make the women’s movement relevant for millions of oppressed Indian womanhood.  Demands like setting up of a central fund to run childcare facilities and inclusions of childcare services under the minimum needs programme, automatic housing rights for women in their marital homes and in their parental homes for unmarried and separated women, land rights making domestic violence a cognizable offence, guardianship rights for deserted and divorced women, rehabilitation of rape and dowry victims by the government are basic and vital issues for the underprivileged women and would go a long way in helping her lead a life of dignity. Autonomous groups should make pressurization of the government for positive decisions the focal point of their activism. Unshackled by so called “political loyalties” these groups are ideally in a position to challenge any government for its anti woman actions and should utilize that to gain benefits for the faceless masses of women. Only then would the hope and promise of March 8 be truly realized as a day of solidarity for all oppressed Indian women.

This special day provides an opportunity to reflect and thank God on the progress made towards gender equality, to assess the challenges facing women in contemporary society, to consider future steps to enhance the status of women and, of course, to celebrate the gains made in these areas. Let us worship God in Truth and in Spirit by following the liturgy on the theme “Connecting Girls – Inspiring Futures”.  Our progress towards gender equality can be considered a continuing journey. Our destination is clear but our route remains a challenge. This year let the women of the Churches consider how far we have come and prepare for the sometimes difficult journey ahead. We can chart our course by measuring the impact of past achievements in our daily lives and by sharing our experiences with each other. Let us join in the journey towards gender equality and help to map out enduring strategies for achieving it.

Rachael Pradhan
Executive Secretary

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