It is quite ironic (and shameful) that while celebrating a hundred years of International Women's Day, the demands put forward for women and often by women are still as basic as education, food, security and equality both in terms of wages as well as respect in the society.
So when over a thousand women and also men from various walks of life marched through the streets of Central Delhi, they presented a wish-list where all these issues were highlighted through speeches, readings, performances and even songs.
The day-long event organised under the banner of the Centenary Committee to Celebrate International Women's Day, comprised of trade unions, students' union, women's organisations and their supporters.
On the issue of prise rise that is breaking the back of the poor in the country, Kavita Krishna, All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA) said that the 20% inflation in food prices will only sideline women further. "The government, instead of extending support to the poor through an increase in the Below Poverty Line coverage, is in fact reducing the number of people eligible for the scheme while at the other hand, spending 1.5 lakh crore on the defense budget and handing out 5 lakh crore tax cuts to rich corporations," she said.
Sujata Mody from New Trade Union Initiative said that women's labour, especially unpaid, reproductive activities need to be valued and recognised. "The traditional work of women as caregivers, which is essential, is not seen as productive work. It is time to recognise women's labour, give equal pay for equal work and change accounting procedures to include women's unpaid work in Government budgeting."
A play showcased by Action India highlighted the issue of violence and intimidation against women. The participants presented their list of demands that included equal Wages for equal work, Pro-women policies, land reform with womens' access to and control over productive resources, demilitarization of the country with justice given to victims of all excesses of security forces and rehabilitation of all internally displaced people among others.