TOWARDS A SECULAR GOVERNMENT THAT PROMOTES WOMEN’S INTERESTS
Women’s Charter for the 16th Lok Sabha Elections – 2014
4th March 2014
As India heads towards general election for the 16th Lok Sabha, we, the women of India consider it a crucial battle, coming as it does in the wake of increasing sexual violence, honour crimes, and atrocities against Dalit, adivasi and minority women, together with rising unemployment, hunger, and relentless price rise. The aggressive pursuit of pro-corporate neoliberal policies by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance II (UPA II), with its huge loot of public resources on the one hand, and inadequate expenditures on economic and social development on the other, has resulted in severe miseries for the people. The BJP is seeking to utilize this rising discontent to its political advantage and projecting itself as the alternative. However, its economic policies are no different from that of the Congress. The BJP’s record in the states where it is in government on socio-economic development, equity, social justice and corruption is far from satisfactory. Along with other constituents of the Sangh Parivar, it has launched an extremely vicious and communal electoral campaign in order to polarize the people and consolidate its votes. It is projecting as its Prime Ministerial candidate, the very person who as Chief Minister oversaw the 2002 Gujarat pogrom. The BJP and its parent RSS ideology stands for divisiveness, disunity and a highly conservative patriarchal attitude towards women.
We, the women of India, feel that the outcome of these elections will greatly impact women’s struggles for safety, equality and progress. On behalf of crores of women from diverse sections of society from rural and urban areas, across the length and breadth of our country, we wish to draw public attention to the issues that have affected women in recent times. The concerns highlighted here need to become part of the mainstream political agenda in the forthcoming elections and in future government Policy.
Political rights: Enact the 33% Women’s Reservation Bill to reserve one – third seats in Parliament and State Assemblies for women.
Food Security and price rise: Universalise the PDS to exclude only tax payers; provide foodgrains at 35kgs per household or 7 kgs per person, whichever is higher, strengthen the PDS and provide all essential commodities at controlled prices; control inflation by acting against hoarders; blackmarketeers; futures trading; remove the cap on subsidized LPG cylinders; reduce petrol and diesel prices by cutting excise and customs duties; prohibit cash transfers and linkage of Aadhar for the PDS; universalise the ICDS; expand Mid Day Meals.
Employment and work: Remove 100 days cap in the MNREGS, ensure timely payment of minimum wages; Enact an Urban Employment Guarantee Act; Regularise ICDS, ASHA, Mid Day Meal and other scheme workers with minimum wages and benefits; Ensure equal and index linked minimum wages of at least Rs 10000 per month; ensure implementation of the Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act; Implement the recommendations of the Sachar and the Ranganath Mishra Committee regarding reservations.
Credit: Include women’s Self Help Groups as part of priority sector credit sector and provide them with loans at 4%. Pass a law to stringently regulate MFIs and money-lending
Pension and Social Security: A minimum universal non-contributory publicly funded pension for Rs 2000 per month for all women above the age of 55 years, all widows and all disabled women irrespective of age; Implement the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act by universalizing its provisions for all workers through a single window system.;
Education and health: Increase public spending on Education to 6% and on Health to 5% of the GDP’ exercise strict control over private facilities; Universal and free public health care. Control prices of essential drugs and provide them free of cost in public facilities; Regulate clinical trials. Enact a Central law to provide universal, free and compulsory education in the age group 0-18years, with special emphasis on the girl child;
Land and natural resources: Distribute surplus ceiling land to landless households with joint pattas; Ensure land for house sites for all homeless, with priority to single women; prevent the diversion, acquisition and encroachment of common lands ensure rights for women over them, especially for those from SC, ST, migrant and nomadic communities; no displacement without prior informed consent; minimize displacement and ensure alternative means of employment and livelihood for women displaced; stop privatization of water resources and drinking water schemes in rural and urban areas.
Resource Mobilisation and Budgetary Allocations:Increase substantially public expenditure on economic and social development programmes, ensure full utilization of allocated resources, stop budget cuts; Provide central budgetary support for the effective implementation of the PWDV Act, anti-Sexual Harassment Act, Prevention of Atrocities Act and for schemes to support survivors of crimes against women, particularly sexual assault, acid attack, honour crimes and sectarian violence; Ensure that all Ministries and Departments effectively allocate at least one third allocations for women. Stop giving tax concessions to the rich and corporate sector. Raise taxes on the wealthy and the corporate sector
Protection of Civil Rights: Enact a comprehensive law against communal violence. Ensure speedy justice and adequate compensation to the victims of communal violence, particularly rape survivors and children; Amend the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act to include obstructing the use of common resources, social and economic boycotting, prevention of participation in elections, etc; Take stringent action against army, para-military and security personnel indulging in human rights violations in disturbed areas. Repeal the AFSPA; Enact an anti-racist law to ensure greater security of people from the North-East.
Violence against Women and Legal Issues:Implement all the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee Report; Include sexual violence against women from SC, ST and minority communities as aggravated sexual assault; Make marital rape an offence; Safeguard S498A of the Indian Penal Code; Fast track all cases of violence against women within a legally bound period of time; Stringent implementation of the PcPNDT Act. Safeguard women’s right to safe abortion; Enact a comprehensive stand alone law to deal with crimes in the name of “Honour” and khap panchayats; Amend the criminal law so that the statutory rape provision does not apply in consensual sexual relations between young couples when the girl is 16 years or more and the age difference is 3 years or less; Enact a comprehensive law to prevent trafficking of women and children; Enact a law for equal rights in marital and inherited property for all women;. Strengthen laws relating to maintenance for women and children; Repeal Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and decriminalise same sex adult consensual relationships.
NCW&SCW: Strengthen their autonomous functioning by selecting Members through an institutionalized, independent and transparent process and that selects experienced professionals and women’s rights activists.
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Vimal Thorat Jagmati Sangwan Ms.Annie Raja Indu Agnihotri
(AIDMAM) (AIDWA) (NFIW) (CWDS)
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Dr. Mohini Giri Dr.Jyotsna Chatterjee Azra Abidi Leila Passah Veena Kohli
(GOS) ( JWP ) ( MWF) (YWCA) (AIWC)