Fifth National Conference of AIPWA

The Fifth National Conference of AIPWA took place at Ranchi on 5-6 September 2008. The Conference took place at a Hall named after Comrade Ajanta Lohit and Comrade Jeeta Kaur, and the dais was named Phoolo Jhano Manch, after the adivasi heroines of the anti-colonial movement. The Conference began with the hoisting of the AIPWA flag by veteran activist of the revolutionary women’s movement Comrade Mira. This was followed by tributes paid at a Marty’s Column to martyrs and departed activists of the women’s movement. In particular, tribute was paid to Kaushalya Devi, who had fought a brave struggle against her son Comrade Chandrashekhar’s killers, and who passed away on the eve of the Conference.

The Conference was inaugurated with a rousing Jani-shikar dance Jharkhand JSM’s team Prerna. The inaugural session began with Dr. Rose Kerketta, on behalf of Ranchi’s Welcome Committee, welcomed the delegates and guests from all over the country. The chief guest at the Conference, exiled Burmese activist Thin Thin Aung, spoke inspiringly about women’s role in the Burmese struggle for democracy against military rule. She said that she and others like her had not come to India to escape from Burma but to continue the struggle for democracy and freedom in Burma. Reminding that both Burma and India shared a legacy of anti-imperialist resistance, she called upon the women’s movement in India to stand by their sisters in Burma and pressurise the Indian Government not to continue to have trade and military ties with the repressive Burmese military regime. AIPWA National President Srilata Swaminathan gave a rousing speech which set the tone for the Conference and presented solidarity messages from women’s groups in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal, as well as Asian Women Unite (UK) and the London-based South Asia Solidarity Group. AIPWA leaders Meena Tiwary, Tahira Hasan, Convenor, Tehreeq-e-Niswan, Prof. Bharti S Kumar from Patna University, Nivedita, senior journalist from Patna, Renu Diwan, editor Nari Samvad, Malanch Ghosh of Mahila Utpidan Virodhi Vikas Manch, and activist Munni Hansdah also addressed the inaugural session.

The delegate session began on the evening of 5 September. 462 delegates from around 16 states participated in the session. Outgoing AIPWA General Secretary Kumudini Pati presented the Report for discussion, and delegates debated many aspects of the women’s movement and ongoing struggles and challenges. AIALA leader Comrade Krishna Adhikari and AICCTU leader Meena Pal also addressed the delegate session, and also AIPWA’s Honorary President, veteran women’s movement leader Comrade Geeta Das.

The Conference elected a 79-member National Council and a 21-member National Executive. Srilata Swaminathan was re-elected National President; Meena Tiwary was elected National General Secretary; Kumudini Pati, Tahira Hasan, Saroj Chaubey, Bharti S Kumar, Anju Borkataky, Pratima Engheepi, Gunni Oraon, Rati Rao and Mukta Manohar as Vice Presidents; and Shashi Yadav, Chaitali Sen, Sunita, Kavita Krishnan, Anjali Upadhyay, Kanaklata Dutta, Medha Thatte and R Nagamani as Secretaries.

The Conference passed a range of political resolutions: resolving to intensify the movement demanding that the Bill for 33% Reservation for Women be placed for vote in the forthcoming session of Parliament; condemning the UPA Government for breaking its promises to women and failing to pass the 33% Reservation Bill; against price rise; against anti-women Court judgements; against privatisation of education and fee hikes which cause girls to be deprived of education; against the communal violence on Christian women by the Sangh Parivar in Orissa; in solidarity with the struggle of Kashmiri women and women in the North East against state repression; demanding scrapping of the AFSPA and other draconian laws; supporting the struggle for autonomous statehood in Karbi Anglong and N C Hills; demanding ban on the Salwa Judum; in solidarity with the struggles against corporate land grab in Singur, Nandigram, Kalinganagar and all over the country; against the rapes of Tapasi Malik and women at Nandigram; congratulating the women of Nepal for their role in the struggle for democracy and expressing solidarity with ongoing struggles in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Burma.

Liberation Archive