AIPWA held its 6th Jharkhand State conference on 18 March 2017 in the Srilata Swaminathan Hall (Town Hall) at Chinta Singh Nagar (Giridih) with slogans resonating against the anti-women policies of the Modi and Raghuvar governments. Inaugurating the conference AIPWA General Secretary Meena Tiwari said that the footfalls of the imminent challenges facing the women’s movement can be heard in the recent UP election results. The massive mandate to the BJP will not only escalate Hindutva and casteist-communal violence and vitiate society and politics with divisive hatred, but also strengthen patriarchy and escalate anti-women hatred and violence on a large scale. The recent statement by the Cabinet Minister Maneka Gandhi that a law would be enacted to confine women within the four walls of the home is an attack on the women’s movement, just as Modi talks of working for the poor but actually works for the rich. Adivasi girls from Jharkhand go to big cities where they become victims of trafficking; girls from Assam are being taken out of the state in the name of education but their parents lose all contact with their daughters; there is an ongoing project in RSS ashrams to make girls ‘courageous’ but when a woman journalist published an investigative story on this project she received death threats. All this is happening while Modi touts his ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ slogan.

While AIPWA has to fight the above challenges on a national level, we must also think about how to fight the challenges in Jharkhand: sexual violence and rape against girl children and students; building a strong people’s movement on women’s issues in Jharkhand.

The conference was presided over by comrades Shushma Mehta, Renu Rawani and Shurupati (Neeta) Bediya and the proceedings were conducted by Savita Singh. Geeta Mandal presented the outgoing committee’s work report. Addressing the conference CPI(ML) MLA Rajkumar Yadav said that AIPWA must have a strong organization so that it can build a powerful women’s movement as a complement to the political movement. The report was passed unanimously and a 47 member State Council and a 23 member State committee were elected. Savita Singh was elected as the President, Mukul Bhattacharya, Shanti Sen, Shobha Devi and Poonam Mahto were elected as Vice Presidents, Geeta Mandal was elected as the Secretary and Jayanti Chaudhury and Sushma Mehta as Joint Secretary. The conference was attended by 110 delegates from all over the state. The conference concluded with an address by Com. Jayanti Chaudhury and songs by comrades Anil Anshuman and Soni Tiriya.

AIPWA District Conference in Godda: Hundreds of honorarium mid-day meal workers, and hundreds of Sahiya-Jal Sahiya, who are also incentive workers, played a lead role in organising the AIPWA district conference in Godda of 5 March. More than 5 lakh literate, bright and intelligent rural women render government service across Jharkhand State but they are given neither government employee status nor contract worker status. In order to keep them out of the ambit of worker status and minimum wages, they are put in the bracket of honorarium/incentive workers and are forced to lead undignified and insecure lives of slaves. Rasoiya, Sahiya and other such working women have now begun to understand the pro-corporate fascist BJP government is taking advantage of the social inequality of women to foist one more system of repression on them. As a result, 500 to 700 honorarium/incentive women workers of Godda district participated in the AIPWA district conference and raised their voice for dignity, security and freedom from fear. At the conference they resolved to strengthen and widen the women’s movement for social and political equality, equal pay for equal work, and to build unity among farmers, workers and all working women.

AIPWA State Secretary Geeta Mandal inaugurated the conference and State President Sabita Singh gave the concluding speech. A 15 member AIPWA district committee was elected with Sudha Jaiswal and Jaya Jayanti as President and Secretary respectively. It was resolved to spread the organisation widely among Rasoiya (mid-day meal) and Jalsahiya workers across the state.