Hundreds of women and men participated with great enthusiasm and militant spirit in a mass rally in the working class districts of Mumbai to celebrate International Women’s Day.
The mass rally held at the Worli BD Chawls Maidan, on March 7, 2010, marks the beginning of the centenary year of International Women’s Day.
The rally followed a massive campaign amongst the working masses, particularly women, jointly by the party and various organizations of the people, including the Purogami Mahila Sangathan, Kaamgar Ekta Chalwal, various workers organizations including the Jagrut Ghar Kamgar Sanghatana which is organizing women working in homes as maids, and the Lok Raj Samitis of the area.
The maidan was decorated with banners of all the organizers. “Long Live the Centenary of International Women’s Day! Let Us Build and Strengthen Lok Raj Samitis!” formed the backdrop of the stage. Banners in numerous languages of the people working in Mumbai were to be seen everywhere, with slogans like “An attack on one is an attack on all!” “Lok Raj Sangathan demands the navnirman of India!”, etc. People – women, youth, children, unorganized sector workers – all of them started trooping in from various far-flung places like Ulhasnagar, Andheri, Thane, and from nearby suburbs like Parel. Revolutionary songs playing in the background contributed to creating a militant atmosphere.
Speakers talked about the grave problems facing the working women and girls of Mumbai and the whole country. All the problems of the whole of society impacted women even more. The conditions of work of working women were even worse than that of men. Five lakh women worked as housemaids in Mumbai with no security of work. Women worked in their homes making beedis for a pittance. They did the toughest jobs, with the least security and lowest wages. They constantly faced physical harassment at the workplace, in the residential areas, and wherever they moved.
The speakers talked about the historical significance of the struggle of emancipation for women, and where the struggle is at today. The struggle of women all over the world for their emancipation naturally from the first was closely linked with the overall struggle against capitalist exploitation and for a new society free from all forms of exploitation and oppression – the struggle for socialism, the struggle to establish the political power of the people, the struggle for Lok Raj. Indeed, it was in the countries where socialism was established in the twentieth century that the most successful efforts were made to actually implement measures to emancipate women.
The speakers pointed out that 60 years ago, the Constitution of the Indian Republic gave the right to vote to women. However, the experience of these 60 years shows that merely getting this right to vote has not enabled working women, or working men to become decision makers. It did not give them real power, only the illusion of power because you could vote. The political system and process in place in our country, ensures that political parties or coalitions representing the ruling class rule in the name of the people, and their rule gets legitimized by elections. It is because working women and working men are deprived of political power that the working women are faced with the terrible situation they face today.
The task before women as well as men is to organize with the perspective of establishing Lok Raj in our country. We need political power to ensure that policies and laws would be made and implemented that would lead to real progress and development for all the working people. We need political power to ensure that criminals of all sorts get the punishment they deserve.
Hence we have to organize ourselves to change the situation and bring in a genuine People’s Government or Lok Raj. We have to organise ourselves in our workplaces and in our residences. We have to organise in factories and offices, in the chawls and mohallas as well as in the villages and form Lok Raj Samitis which will unite the people and fight for the solution of their problems.
A spirited cultural festival with revolutionary songs, folk dances, in the numerous languages of the people followed —Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati, Telugu and so on. It reflected the unity of the working women, and the working class of Mumbai, who come from different parts of our vast country to earn a living.
The women and men who attended the centenary meeting affirmed the unity of the people, came away enthused, hopeful and determined to build a wonderful future for themselves and the entire country, and confident in their ability to do so along with over a billion of their compatriots.