AATH MARCH KA HAI YEH NAARA
SURAKSHIT HO YEH JAHAAN HAMARA!
TOGETHER FOR DIGNITY, DIVERSITY, EQUALITY AND JUSTICE!
International Women’s Day, Sunday 8th March 2015

This Women’s Day we gather to mark our collective actions towards creating a world free of violence, injustice and oppression. Together we inspire each other by celebrating the gains of our women’s movements. We re-energise ourselves to continue resisting and challenging patriarchal, casteist, communal and regressive forces, both state and non-state.

This past year, as in the years before, there have been a shocking number of incidents of violence against women all over the country, including incidents of ‘dis-honour’ killings and acid attacks. Who can forget the horrific attacks on the young girls from Badayun to Bhagana, or the violence on women from Muzaffarnagar to Bilaspur to Kurmuri? Sexual assaults on Dalit women and girls have increased in numbers and in degrees of cruelty. Delhi itself has seen increasing levels of ethnic violence, harassment and homophobia. Women from the North-East, gender-queer persons, Muslim and Dalit women, women with disabilities, migrant and refugee women, and sex workers all face varying degrees of intolerance, abuse and violence on a daily basis. Our autonomies and freedoms are under attack.

Increasing privatisation of essential services (water, electricity, health and insurance) is severely affecting everyday life of citizens. Labour laws are being changed in the name of liberalisation and “Make in India” policies, closing off avenues for workers to unionise and struggle for their rights. Changes in land, environment and labour laws, proposed in the name of development and progress, threaten the rights of the people most connected to it.

We live in highly communalised times where our freedoms and safety are further threatened by dangerous ideas likes ‘love jehad’ and ‘ghar-vapsi’. It has taken several attacks on Christians, Muslims and their places of worship for the official silence to be broken. ‘Fringe’ elements have taken the centre-stage and their strident voices can be heard inside the Parliament, in the corridors of power and of course, in the media. When elected representatives talk about Hindu women having “4 children (and not 40 puppies)”, it threatens the democratic fabric of the country… and is an affront to all women!

Even though there have been several attempts to silence dissenting voices, the courageous acts of resistance from women from all across the country continue to inspire our struggles. Adivasi women in Rewali, Chhattisgarh, protesting the merciless killing of a fellow adivasi who did not bow down in the face of state brutality. The young sisters of Rohtak, Haryana, bravely defending themselves from sexual harassment on buses and in public places. Struggling Dalit and tribal women unjustly jailed in Sonbhadra, Uttar Pradesh, released with honour and the District Magistrate suspended for not protecting them and their children from attacks.

This Women’s Day, we re-imagine a world of equality and diversity, free from economic exploitation and social discrimination. We reiterate our commitment towards drawing a new blueprint of development that is inclusive and helps build a democratic, secular and just society. We assert our commitment to the creation of a world that respects women as equal citizens of this country. We invite men comrades to be a part of the ongoing struggles against violence and gender inequalities. We demand the following:

1. Safety and Autonomy For Every Girl and Woman

  • Systems of safety for women to live, work and enjoy. Specific measures must be put into place for the safety and mobility of women and girls with disabilities who have special needs.
  • More CCTVs and increased surveillance is not the answer; police accountability, speedy filing of FIRs and certainty of securing justice is.
  • Zero tolerance against violence within the family, community and in public places.
  • Recognition of marital rape as a crime and its inclusion in the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.
  • Recognition of caste-based/ethnic violence on women. Effective application of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989.

2. More Women in Political Positions of Power

  • 33% reservation for women in Legislature and Parliament.
  • Lack of literacy or semi literacy NOT to be made a barrier for women contesting Panchayat elections.

3. Policies to Ensure Economic Empowerment of Women

  • Home based workers, construction workers, domestic workers and other women in the unorganised sector to be recognised as workers.
  • Equal wages for equal work for men & women workers. Monthly minimum wages to be raised to Rs. 15,000.
  • Social security board should be set up especially for women workers to ensure improvement in working conditions and benefits like employee state insurance, pension and provident fund.
  • A compensation scheme should be launched for loss of agriculture work due to changing rainfall structure for women workers.
  • Dignity for manual scavengers by proper implementation of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Rules 2013.
  • Decriminalisation of sex work. Review laws like the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act that conflate sex with trafficking for sexual exploitation & impact people in sex work. Ensure meaningful participation of sex workers in all discussions that impact them, including reviewing laws, policies & social entitlements.
  • Freedom from sexual harassment at the workplace by ensuring compliance with the mechanisms of in the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
  • We oppose the introduction of anti-worker labour laws. We demand registration of factory owners, uphold the right of workers to unionise and demand that maternity leave and creche facilities be provided to women workers.

4. Food and Housing Security for all, especially the most vulnerable communities.

5. No Rollback of any people-centred schemes like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

6. Gender just, Holistic and Equitable Health Policies and Programmes

  • Comprehensive health services must be universally available and accessible irrespective of the ability to pay, without stigma or discrimination.
  • Women’s health must not be relegated to maternity issues as their concerns go beyond reproduction and the reproductive age.
  • Legal provisions to install proper pollution control devices/water/soil treatment plants to protect women’s health in the areas of big industrial infrastructure.

7. Gender Just Education System

  • Roll out of the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) in all states for free & compulsory education to all girls & children from marginalised communities.
  • Gender sensitive content and curriculum of school education.
  • Sufficient investment in adult education and sustainable & accountable schemes & programmes.

8. Legal Reforms

  • Swiftness & certainty of justice for perpetrators of crime. We are against death penalty for any crime. No impunity for criminals. Complete accountability of the judiciary and law enforcement agencies.
  • Repeal of UAPA, AFSPA and other draconian laws accompanied by de-militarisation, especially in the North eastern states, Kashmir and Chhattisgarh.
  • Implementation of the NALSA judgment (recognition of the legal and Constitutional rights of transgender persons, including the Hijra community as the third gender).
  • We demand reading down of Section 377 IPC that criminalises adult consensual same-sex relations & an affirmation of the Constitutional rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender community.
**Aath March Zindabad** **Nari Mukti Zindabad** **Nari Ekta Zindabad**

Programme: 11 am outside Gate no. 7, Rajiv Chowk metro station, a human chain at the periphery of Central Park in Connaught Place. Later, rally onwards for a programme at Jantar Mantar.

Organised by: YWCA Delhi, Women against Sexual Violence & State Repression, Women for Water Democracy, TARSHI, Swastik Mahila Samiti, Stree Mukti Sangathan, Sex Workers Allies South Asia, Society for Labour & Development, Sangat, Sama, Samarthyam, Sashakt Nari Parishad, Saheli Women’s Resource Centre, Rashtriya Gharelu Kamgar Union, Rashtriya Dalit Mahila Andolan, Purogami Mahila Sangathan, Partners for Law in Development, Positive Women’s Network, Pension Parishad, NoMore Campaign, Nirantar, National Federation of Indian Women, National Alliance of People’s Movements, Nari Shakti Manch, Mahila Pragati Manch, Maitri, Joint Women’s Programme, Jagori, Human Rights Law Network, Feminism in India.com, Delhi Solidarity Group, Deafway Foundation, Citizens’ Collective against Sexual Assault, Centre for Health & Social Justice, Centre for Advocacy & Research, Breakthrough, Aql ka Dhaba, All India Progressive Women’s Association, All India Network of Sex Workers, All India Democratic Women’s Association, Anhad, Action India and many individuals.

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