Fight for gender justice

International Women's Day started for the Eastern jatha with a large meeting in Kalyanpur block of Samastipur district. This district has seen 31 martyrs sacrificing their lives in struggles against feudal oppression and for land. The last of these martyrs was a woman.

The meeting at Kalyanpur had a large number of women including a Zilla Parishad member. Jatha leaders Biman Basu, Jogendar Sharma and Subhashini Ali greeted the meeting and said that on International Womens Day the ever increasing spiral of violence against women must be condemned. Bihar, like other parts of the country is witnessing a huge increase in the incidents of violence against women including rape and abductions. In fact abductions are once again taking place at a rate equivalent to the earlier regime.

The speakers said that the Sangharsh Sandesh was raising issues crucial to the safety and well being of women like the demand for universal provision of 35 kilos of grain at 2 rupees a kilo and guaranteeing gender justice. The speakers also said that the prevailing patriarchal mindset also must be challenged.

A noteworthy feature of all the meetings addressed in the course of the jatha in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar has been the huge participation of women. Many many of them are workers – MNREGA workers, beedi workers, agricultural workers and project workers like anganwadis, ASHA, mid-day meal workers and contract teachers.

On Monday and Tuesday, contract teachers including many women were brutally beaten by the police in Patna where they were demanding job security and government salaries. The jatha leaders have condemned the government brutality and expressed solidarity with the teachers.

On its entry into Darbhanga, the jatha was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd. Again women were conspicuous in their numbers and enthusiasm.