International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day March 8th 1989 

Newsletter Dec 1989

Women’s organisations in India have been celebrating March 8, International Women’s Day far many years. In Delhi this year, Saheli and fourteen other organisations got together and celebrated it jointly. The last time we got together was as far back as 1980 when a successful struggle was launched for a change in the rape 1aws. 

For many years the women’s liberation movement made many positive gains, significant changes in law were made and there was a general awareness and recognition of women’s problems. Women all over the country also struggled against landlords, deforestation, alcoholism etc. But now again several challenges face us which need a united front and struggle. In spite of the progress made by women’s groups, we are increasingly threatened by Government inaction and lack of implementation of existing laws. Rising fundamentalism and communalism stands to affect women primarily. Some of the other challenges are the recent judgements by the Supreme Court in the Haryana Rape Case and the Bhopal Settlement, discriminatory family laws, an increasing amount of sexual harassment on the streets, lack of implementation of the anti-dowry and anti-sati laws, sex determination tests which lead to extermination of the female foetus and the sale of dangerous and injurious contraceptives by multinational companies. 

Women belonging to fifteen organisations, All India Democratic Women’s Association, Ankur, Action India, 

National Federation of Indian Women, Jagori, Kali, Karmika, Joint Women’s Programme, Saheli, Sabla Sangh, Shakti Shalini, Mahila Dakshata Samiti, YWCA of India and Centre for Women’s Development Studies, collected at Jantar Mantar at 12 noon and marched upto Shivaji Park for a public meeting at 2. There was an air of excitement and expectation as women gathered under their different banners and greeted each other and practised their slogans. Throughout the march which wound its way through Janpath and under the Minto Bridge, leaflets were distributed and songs were sung. 

At Shivaji Park several organisations including Saheli and Sabla Sangh sang songs and speeches were made. The right of every woman to life, dignity and equality was re-asserted. 

The demands voiced were: 

1. Central legislation to ban sex determination and sex pre selection tests and a ban on dangerous drugs already banned in other countries. 

2. Review of the Bhopal judgement by the Supreme Court, provision of adequate compensation for victims and punishment to the guilty. 

3. Review of the Custodial rape case of Haryana by the Supreme Court. 

4. Enactment of an egalitarian civil code for all citizens of the country. 

5. Strict implementation of all legislation meant for protecting the rights of women and stringent punishment to the culprits. 

6 Need-based minimum wages for all. Equal wages for women, for work of equal value. Protection of rights particularly for home-based workers. 

7. Opportunities for training and employment to all women. Extension of cheap credit to women of socially and economically deprived sections. 

8. Ban on price rise on essential commodities. Availability of essential commodities of good quality in adequate quantities through the public distribution system. 

9. Ban on all programmes on TV and Radio which promote religious revivalism and fanaticism. 

10. Implementation of a people-oriented housing policy, adequate hostel facilities for women to allow them to study and work. Shelter in each town for women in crises.