8th March – the International Women’s Day (IWD) symbolizes the collective struggle of women for equality. In 1908 women workers marched in New York demanding equal voting rights for all women and the declaration of IWD by the Second Women’s Socialist International under the leadership of Clara Zetkin in 1911 was supported by millions of women who participated across the world in rallies, marches and protests to demand equal rights including voting rights.
After the long freedom struggle and achieving freedom from the British, Indian Constitution that was adopted in 1950, ensured equal rights to all its citizens irrespective of caste, class, region and gender.
The struggle for liberating women continued for 70 years but it was never imagined that in Independent India, women cutting across classes, castes and religions will face humiliation in their own homes like they faced immediately after demonetization. Most Indian women, especially who have no access to banks, save money in cash for emergency situations: ailments, children’s education or in a situation when they face abuse. Women were left with no option but to reveal their secret savings to their husbands, sons and in the process losing it to them, leaving them more vulnerable and being mocked. The anguish and pain caused to millions of women cannot be felt by leaders who use photo-ops with their mothers for political gains.
Garbh Vigyan Sanskar (Uterus Science Culture), Arogya Bharati and Vidya Bharati have been conducting live trials in various parts of the country to produce ‘fair’ and ‘tall’ ‘customised’ children. According to Dr Karishma Mohandas Narwani, national convener of the project, their main aim is to make a Samarth Bharat through Uttam Santati (best off spring). Their target is to have thousands of Uttam Santati by 2020. The goal of producing these customized babies is reducing women to their uteri and controlling their sexuality and bodies.
Sakshi Maharaj, a Member of Parliament said in January 2015, "The concept of four wives and forty children just won't work in India but it is high time that every Hindu woman must produce at least four children to protect the Hindu religion". In January 2015 speaking at Megh Mela in Allahabad, Shankaracharya of Badrikashram, Vasudevan Saraswati said, "In order to maintain their majority status, every Hindu family should give birth to 10 kids." In August 2016 at a convention of newly married couples, RSS said, " to keep our culture and civilization alive we must seriously think about our fertility rates." Aggressively pushing their fascist agenda based on lies, following in the footsteps of Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany, Sangh sees the role of women as submissive wives and mothers who produce babies of ‘good race’. There is a strong agreement among the conservative and orthodox clergy of all religions and fascist forces on women’s role in the society.
On one hand Modi is being portrayed as the messiah of ‘Muslim’ women on the question of triple talaq, though they have no role to play in the Supreme Court judgment abolishing it; on the other hand, the same regime is devising new ways to demonize the Muslim community and making the Muslim women more vulnerable.
The agrarian crisis is having a heavy toll on the lives of the marginalized women.
With the growth of the overall violence in the society there is a deep impact on the lives of women. The mob lynching by the cow vigilantes, honor killings, growing attacks on Dalits, Christians and Muslims are creating an atmosphere of fear. The recent expose by Reuters shows that the nefarious designs of the Modi govt to rewrite history, is a major threat to the diversity and pluralism and to the very Idea of India.
Women’s movement must join the struggle to defend the democratic rights of the people, stand in solidarity with the people’s struggles and fight the patriarchal, casteist, communal, anti women, anti poor and fascist regime.