Resolution on Women’s Movement : Challenges and Tasks

involvement of global capital, the growth of racist sex tourism, and even servicing US military bases in the region, as has been the experience in the Philippines and Southeast Asia. More generally, it reinforces the idea of sex work as an employment ‘choice’ for women, allowing the state to further disown any responsibility for the survival of poor women.

32. Women in India have also become even more vulnerable to sex trafficking in the context of neoliberal globalization and the development of global markets in women’s bodies, particularly women from ‘Third World’ countries. Luring and trafficking of women both within the country and abroad, under the ruse of love or offer of jobs has become rampant. Trafficking of women for domestic work is also rampant, with women from adivasi and other oppressed communities being especially vulnerable. We must struggle against all forms of trafficking including sex trafficking, in ways which respect the rights and dignity of those who are trafficked, in contrast to the paternalistic and dehumanizing approach of NGOs engaged in ‘rescuing’ women from trafficking.

Discrimination in the Political Sphere

33. Women continue to be abysmally under-represented in the Parliament and Assemblies. Fanning up a phobia against women’s freedom and assertion is increasingly coming into its own as a means of reaping political capital. The case of 33% reservation for women is telling. The opposition to the bill claimed to rest on the demand for reservation for OBC women. But increasingly, that demand has taken a back seat – and opponents of the bill are openly indulging in gender-biased rhetoric against women’s entry into Parliament! And the ruling coalitions of UPA (and earlier NDA), have shown their true colours by allowing such openly gender biased forces to carry the day and prevent the passage of the bill. The demand for a quota for OBCs and minorities must not become a pretext to stall or dilute the Bill, and can be incorporated within the ambit of 33% seats for women, as long as the Bill is passed without further delay.

34. In panchayats, 50% of the seats are reserved for women, and elected women representatives are challenging patriarchal forces. However, discrimination against elected women representatives, continues – for instance, in the ‘panch pati’ syndrome where the husband acts on behalf of the elected woman, and in various forms of caste and gender discrimination. Women in politics and public life at all levels – from panchayats to Parliament to people’s movements – face sexist and gendered abuse by opponents. Activists of the KNCA associated with the AIPWA have been active in demanding 50% reservation for women in the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council, on the lines of the reservation in panchayats.

35. Vibrant and powerful women’s participation and assertion in the political arena beyond parliament and panchayats is essential to take reservation beyond tokenism, and to create a political and socio-cultural climate in favour of women’s needs and concerns.

Women’s Movement and Liberalisation: Some Concerns

36. Liberalisation has posed new challenges for the women’s
movement, and has also led to some disturbing trends in the women’s movement. The widespread NGO-isation of women’s groups, and a spurt in funding for such groups by government and funding agencies has seriously crippled the autonomy of the women’s movement. Governments have, in many cases, succeeded in securing legitimacy by outsourcing their responsibilities to NGOs. NGO involvement in formulation and implementation of policies is peddled as ‘participatory development.’ Project-based funding has led to fragmentation of the women’s organisation in the name of single-issue organisations, and has allowed funders to set the agenda for the groups they fund. Funding and NGO-isation effectively restricts and discourages the ability of women’s groups to confront the State and the neoliberal economic policies.