National Conference of Women's Movements

National Conference of Women's Movements

A Call To Women From All Over The Country!

Newsletter Sept 1997

Once again we, from various women’s groups and movements, from different parts of the country, will be meeting for the 6th National Conference at Ranchi, bihar, from 28th - 30th December, 1997. At the Conference, we hope to share our experiences, insights, visions, struggles and campaigns with each other. We also hope to connect through discussions on various themes and plan strategies together. We will celebrate our coming together, dance and sing with each other.

National Conferences have now become part of the ‘tradition’ of the women’s movement. They are organised by some women's groups who come together to form a National Co-ordination Committee (NCC) to decide the venue of a Conference, its central focus, themes and workshops.

Money for the Conference is raised through donations, fund-raising events and a registration fee. This year, the Full Fee is Rs.300 while the Subsidised Fee is Rs. 150. Individuals and organisations who can afford it should pay the Full Fee to help enable the participation of others who cannot afford it.

The 1st National Conference was held in 1980 in Bombay in the context of the anti-rape campaign in various parts of the country. Around 200 women from autonomous women’s groups gathered here for the first time.

The 2nd Conference was held in 1985, once again in Bombay, to discuss perspectives of the women’s movement. 380 women from a number of women’s groups participated.

The 3rd Conference moved to Patna, Bihar in 1987 in order to facilitate the participation of grass roots activists and strengthen women’s groups in Bihar. 760 women came together for this Conference.

The 4th Conference was organised in Calicut, Kerala in 1990 and the participation soared to 2,980 women from 113 groups.

The 5th Conference was held in Tirupathi, Andhra Pradesh in 1994 on the themes of State repression, the new economic policy and communalism. Over 3,000 women participated.

The 6th National Conference will focus on the following 3 central themes:

Displacement of Women: Throughout history, development policies, and more recently, the new economic policies, have been displacing thousands of poor people. Women are the worst hit by such deprivation of livelihoods, land, jobs, and cultures. This displacement further marginalises women who are also socially “displaced” from their parental and matrimonial homes.

Increasing Violence Against Women: Despite sustained struggles, violence against women continues to increase. Issues like incest, marital rape, and sexual harassment at the workplace are being taken up by the women’s movement. We need to discuss how best we can strategise to continue the struggle against violence.

Anti-Woman Character of the State: The State has brought in many legislations and policies for women. But its inherently patriarchal, classist, and casteist nature perpetuates the existing status quo and does little to implement laws or offer women justice. This anti woman character of the State is most blatantly seen when it is unable to contain its own armed forces and police from perpetuating violence against women.

These three sessions will be followed by sub-theme workshops on issues like Health, Family and Other Support Structures, Communalism, Sexuality, Gender Just Laws, Women and Labour, Natural resources, and Perspectives from the women’s movements. There will also be special sessions for Adivasi women, Dalit women and Muslim women that will address issues that arise out of their particular situations.

We invite all women who agree with our Declaration to come to the Conference, and to share our collective and individual work, ideas, creativity and experiences.

This Conference is being organised by the collective efforts of all of us.

Please volunteer for different tasks during the Conference.

Please participate by conducting a workshop, talking about your activities, having a poster exhibition, etc. on any of the Conference themes. All forms of expression like poetry, songs, dances, theatre, posters, films, etc. are welcome.

If you would like to do any of the above, please contact: Forum Against Oppression of Women, 29 Bhatia Bhavan, Babrekar Marg, Off Gokhale Road, Dadar(W), Mumbai 400 028.

Please actively collect donations for the Conference. Send your contributions through Demand Drafts/Money Orders drawn in the name of “Nari Mukti Sangharsh Sammelan, Ranchi”.

Registration for this Conference is compulsory. Organisers are responsible to arrange food only for those who register in advance. So please send in your registration forms. If you have not yet received registration forms, please contact the State Co-ordination Committee immediately.

Last date for registration is 31st October,1997.

For further information contact:

State Co-ordination Committee, Nari Mukti Sangharsh Sammelan, House of Late S.K. Banerjee, Women's College Lane, Nagra Toli, Ranchi 834001, Bihar. Tel. [P.P.] : 207741, 301963.

Special Information

~ All sessions of the Conference are for women only. ~ Every attempt will be made for simultaneous translations of the proceedings through different language groups. ~ Ranchi will be very cold in December. Please remember to bring warm clothing. Also you will have to get your own bedding including sheets and blankets. Floors of the rooms will be lined with straw and jute coverings which will provide warmth, but it will not be possible to provide mattresses. ~ Creche facilities will be arranged at the venue for children. ~ Efforts to get railway concessions for all participants are being made by Jagori and Saheli in New Delhi. ~ Only women can register for the Conference. Men accompanying women participants will have to make their own arrangements.

SCHEDULE OF THE national CONFERENCE of women's movements

28 December 1997 : Welcome

Sessions Displacement of women

Anti-woman character of the State

Increasing violence against women

Introduction of participants with cultural programme.

29 December 1997 : Sub-Theme Workshops

Parallel Sessions Gender Just Laws

Communalism

Sexuality

Health

Natural Resources

Family and Other Support Structures

Women and Labour

Different perspectives in the women’s movement

Special Sessions Muslim women

Adivasi women

Dalit women

Special evening meetings and workshops:

Meeting of women who love women

Nationality Struggles

Poetry and other creative expressions

Problems of Indian women living abroad

30 December 1997 : Plenary Session

Sharing of Resolutions & Workshop Proceedings

Rally and Public Meeting