New Delhi- In a resounding display of unity and determination, more than 1000 women from diverse backgrounds and regions across India gathered for the inaugural session of the 9th National Conference of the All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA). This landmark event witnessed the participation of grassroots movement representatives, citizens of Delhi, and prominent figures from various spheres, including Arundhati Roy, Neha Singh Rathore, Navsharan Kaur, Arfa Khanum Sherwani, and Meena Kotwal. These women, together with leaders from the Farmers' Movement, AIDWA, NFIW, and the Women's Movement of Nepal, came together with a clear and resolute message: "Bahut Hua Nari Par Vaar, Door Hato Modi Sarkar!" (Enough is enough, Modi government, step aside).
The conference's opening session featured passionate speakers who voiced their concerns about the Modi Government's delay in implementing the women's reservation bill under the pretext of the upcoming census and delimitation.
Arundhati Roy addressed the conference and said, "Caste and religion play the role of feeding fascists. An important role of the women's movement is to defeat this nexus. Today the task before us is to throw the fascists out of power. BJP must be thrown out of the government in the coming election."
Neha Singh Rathore, the popular Bhojpuri singer from Bihar addressed the conference. She said in her own poetic style, "I entertain people through my songs in Bhojpuri. Till now several popular Bhojpuri singers have objectified women. When I started singing something else, FIRs were filed against me. Now I ought to speak out against the government. It is our duty as citizens to not become blind followers, but to keep questioning the power." She sang several of her popular songs that talked about constitutional rights, unemployment under the current regime and denial of right to education.
Meena Kotwal , Founding Editor, Mooknayak said, "Dalit women face double marginalisation in our caste ridden society. Their life condition has been made so worse that their life expectancy is almost a decade less than women of upper caste. Till today casteist practices like manual scavenging exist. Till today sanitation work is caste determined. Dalit women have to break double barriers of gender and caste to live a life of their own choices. "
Sudesh Goyat, leader of Farmers' Movement said, "We women were important part of the farmers' movement that became victorious. We farmers do not discriminate between caste or religion. We produce food and food is for everyone. Today's government must not take us lightly. Our wrestlers are still denied justice. The government will have to answer for it."
Arfa Khanum Sherwani, Journalist with The Wire said, "The Modi Government is trying to tell us we must celebrate because the women's reservation bill has been passed. Women of the country have understood the design of betrayal entranched in the act. If the reservation was really meant for women, there would have been celebrations on the street, not merely by BJP MPs."
Bhasha Singh, senior journalist said, "Today's women are asserting their rights everywhere. If they were a significant part of farmers' movement, they are also at the forefront of movements against CAA-NRC-NPR and Bulldozer Raj." Mariam Dhawle, All India General Secretary of AIDWA,l and Aruna from NFIW addressed the conference and expresses their solidarity with AIPWA'S movement.
Meena Tiwari, All India General Secretary of AIPWA gave the concluding speech to the inaugural session of the conference and said, "The AIPWA has led historic movements in the country. It is AIPWA'S struggle that ensured period leave for women in Bihar. AIPWA'S leadership role in the anti-rape movement of 2012 ensured progressive changes in anti rape laws of the country. AIPWA leaders recently led a glorious battle of scheme workers in Bihar that ensured significant increase in their honorarium. The women of the country know the real face of Modi Government. We know they are trying to fool us by adding clauses in the women's reservation bill that has indefinitely delayed the implementation of women's reservation. Women of the country say today, Bahot Hua Nari Par Vaar, Dur Hato Modi Sarkar."