Mahila Ekta Manch Invites You to a Women¹s Convention
9th, December 2002, Ahmedabad, 10.30 AM-5.30 PM
Action Aid, Ahmedabad Community Foundation, Aidwa, Anandi,
Behavioural Science Centre, Disha, Centre for Social Justice, Navsarjan, Sahaj, Sahiyar, Sahrwaru, Samerth, Swati, Vikas Adhyan Kendra, Uthaan
Time and again women have been made targets of sectarian violence. Gujarat represents a glaring example of this in the recent history of the country. While the violence in general has been described as a stigma¹ and a blot¹ on the nation by politicians of various persuasions, violence against women has been met with a deafening silence from most quarters. There is nothing new about this silence: it rages almost every time a woman is subject to sexual violence. However, what makes Gujarat unique is that never before has there been such a massive collapse of both state and society; both have failed to uphold women¹s rights to lives with dignity and security.
Events in Gujarat do not need to be reiterated here. Suffice to say that these developments pose a serious threat, as well as a severe challenge, to the struggle for women¹s rights in all spheres. The women¹s movement in India has consistently raised its voice against violence over the last two decades. If this long struggle against violence has to resonate with any meaning for ordinary women we have to collectively raise our voices against the violence women have faced in Gujarat.
Unfortunately there has been an absence of such a collective voice in Gujarat. Despite the fact that women¹s groups have worked with the women survivors of the violence there has been no collective and public outcry against the violence. Some of us therefore thought that one of the best ways in which to facilitate this public protest and condemnation would be to organise a one day women¹s convention in Ahmedabad. With the announcement of elections on 12th Dec 2002 we decided it was also the right time to make a public declaration of the kind of governance that women want.
Women¹s groups and civil liberties groups outside Gujarat have been quick to respond to the current crisis. We have been strengthened collectively and individually by this response. We therefore extend an invitation to all groups outside the State to attend this convention and add their voices to this struggle. Express your solidarity with women survivors in Gujarat, and share with us the actions you have initiated in your cities and villages.
Please circulate this invitation widely and help to make this convention a success. Also bring your banners and posters along. Please let us know how many of you will attend the convention and when you are likely to arrive in Ahmedabad. The venue is yet to be finalised and we will let you know about later.
Bhavna, Sheba, Sophia, Bina, Jyotsna, Jahanavi, Poonam, Trupti, Renu, Nisha and many others.
Welcome and introduction: Bhavna Ramrakhiani, Ahmedabad
Why violence affects women : Kamla Bhasin, Delhi
Ahiya Ek Nagar Vastu Hatu: Street play by Fade-in Theatre, Ahmedabad
Overview of violence in Ahmedabad: Sheba George, Ahmedabad
Testimonies: Women from Panchmahals, Ahmedabad, Banaskantha,
Vadodara, Sabarkantha, Chhota Udepur and Bharuch
Songs: Vinay & Charul/Swaroopben Dhruv
Declaration of solidarity/sharing by outside groups
What do women want from elections? Dr. Sayeda Hamid, Delhi
More on elections: Sophia Khan, Ahmedabad
Summing up: Trupti Shah, Vadodara
Pledge: All participants
Vote of thanks