Several women organisations have come up with “women’s manifesto” highlighting the key points for solving several issues faced by women and overall development ahead of the assembly elections in Assam.
The manifesto is a collective process through which women from various background and social groups have come together to draw attention to the gaps that remain in attaining gender equality and development in Assam.
“Through this manifesto the women are putting forward their demands to political parties and MLA candidates to recognise the issues faced by women on the ground include these in their plan and promises for the state,” said one of the associates who has prepared the manifesto for the Assam elections.
“The Women’s Reservation Bill is yet to become an act in India. Major political parties across the country have always been biased against women regarding the inclusion of women in the decision-making process and offering important portfolios. In the aftermath of anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests, new political parties have emerged with the aim to uphold the legacy of the sub-nationalist sentiment of Assam. It is very unfortunate to see a minimal representation of women in these parties as well, given the massive participation of women in villages and towns in the anti-CAA protests,” the associate said.
Some of the key points in the manifesto includes – the demand for passing the women reservation bill immediately and 33 per cent reservation for women candidates in the state legislative assembly and parliamentary general elections in accordance to the bill.
“Ensure appropriate representation and participation of women at the decision-making level in local governing bodies/councils, public committees,” it said.
“Facilitate organising of regular Mahila Gram Sabhas (Women Village Councils) so that women can voice their concerns and women representatives can bring their issues to the mainstream.”
Assam Polls: Manifesto also voices for LGBTQIA+
The manifesto also has specific demands for marginalised groups – LGBTQIA+ community.
“Ten per cent reservation for LGBTQIA+ community in the political parties is a must and voter cards should be inclusive of all genders,” it said.
They have also raised the voice for the women of tea garden and char (riverine areas).
The manifesto has also demanded equal wages for women and men through strict implementation of the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 and the Code on Wages, 2019 which mandate equal wage and prohibit discriminatory wages based on gender.
“Initiate women’s land ownership drive to build awareness and incentives to women and households with women landowners. Provide more opportunities for women with land to take loans, grants and participate in agri-entrepreneurship programmes,” it added.
The manifesto highlighted the safety concerns for women. “Witch-hunting, sexual violence on women and girls, domestic violence, intimate partner abuse, acid attack, trafficking, cybercrimes, child/early marriage of girls are on the rise. Women of all gender and sexual identities are gripped with fear and trauma due to lack of protection and safety in their own home, workplaces, public transport, streets, markets and other public spaces,” the manifesto, prepared for the Assam assembly elections, mentioned.
“To formulate a state policy for women’s safety and protection with adequate budgetary allocation and establish women’s safety committees at all levels beginning from panchayat/ village child development committee to state-level with equal representation of all genders.”
The core committee members who have drafted the women’s manifesto for the Assam elections includes North East Network, Purva Bharti Educational Trust, Women in Governance, Women’s Leadership Training Centre and Xobdo.