About 800 Muslim women are expected to attend the first National Convention of Muslim Women to be organized by the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA).
The convention will be held in New Delhi on 27th August. Muslim women from UP, Bihar, Delhi, MP, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Tripura, Kerala, AP, Orissa, and Uttarakhand will participate in the convention, according to the president of AIDWA, Subhashini Ali.
AIDWA is projecting the convention as "a platform for Muslim women from different walks of life and regions of India to share their experiences, their hopes, their sorrows and their achievements."
Established in 1981, AIDWA started working among Muslim women ten years ago. Responding to TwoCircles.net by email Subhashini Ali said that AIDWA members came to the conclusion that while all women suffer from some form of discrimination or injustice some sections of women are more unequal than others. She listed Dalit, Muslim, tribal, and agricultural women workers as examples of women who are more "unequal than other women." She said that AIDWA is trying to bring more women from these sections into the organization and also providing them leadership roles.
Currently out of nine national vice-presidents, two – Anwara Mirza and P. Zainaba – are Muslims. Other noteworthy Muslim representatives are Sehba Farooqui (Gen. Sec., Delhi State), Mariam Dhawale (Gen. Secy., Maharashtra State), Zarina Khursheed (President, U.P. State).
Subhashini Ali, who won Lok Sabha elections from Kanpur in 1991, said that AIDWA is holding district and state level conventions of Muslim women for several years. AIDWA has led nation-wide signature campaigns on model nikahnama and Sachar Committee recommendations.
Ali denied that convention is organized with upcoming Lok Sabha elections in mind, though she added, "we would like Muslim women issues to be part of the agendas of the secular political parties."
Charter of demands to be adopted at the convention demands equal economic, educational, employment, health and citizenship rights for Muslim women of India. It calls for a sub-plan for the development of the Muslim community in India.
AIDWA Charter of Demands
This National Convention of Muslim Women demands equal economic, educational, employment, health and citizenship rights for Muslim women of India. We do not accept an approach that puts the responsibility of the upliftment of Muslim women in society solely on the Muslim community. Our struggle is to ensure that the Indian government bears its due responsibility and takes the following concrete steps and measures for the advancement of Muslim women in India:
Sub-plan for all round development
1. Prepare a sub-plan for the socio-economic, educational, health and other development of the Muslim community in India. Allocate 15% of the Annual Budget under various ministries for the targeted development of the Muslim community, especially in wards/bocks/districts with large Muslim populations. Make a just allocation under the sub-plan for specific schemes aimed at advancing the Muslim women of our country.
2. Provide recognition and support to Muslim minority educational institutions which should ensure adequate seats for girls.
3. Provide more facilities for formal education of Muslim girls and women. Set up day-boarding and residential schools for Muslim girls in Muslim areas. Provide more scholarships for Muslim girls.
4. Upgrade registered madrasas (following the West Bengal example) to provide modern education and vocational training to Muslims. Ensure the right of madrasa educated students to join the regular stream of education after passing out.
5. Open more ITIs in Muslim concentrated areas and ensure adequate admission to Muslim girls who should not only be relegated to learning traditional skills like stitching, cooking, etc., but also trained in modern technology.
6. Open more health centres and ICDS centers in Muslim areas. Ensure adequate female staff including more female doctors in them.
Credit and Employment
7. Provide 15% of bank loans to Muslims in priority sectors as well as commercial and business sectors and ensure that Muslim women get their fair share of these loans. Create easy credit facilities for SHGs, craftswomen and women involved in petty trade and commerce. Provide incentives to Muslim craftswomen to form co-operatives.
8. Open training centres at district level for skill upgradation in the unorganised sector such as chikan and zardosi work where Muslim women are traditionally employed. Provide a marketing network (on the lines of Khadi Gramodyog) to women employed in this sector.
9. Ensure better representation of Muslim women in government jobs and public sector units. Ensure at least one Muslim representative on all recruitment boards.
10. Pass the 33% Reservation Bill for all women without delay.
11. Provide reservation to Dalit Muslims and also ensure that women get better benefit of reservations.
12. Ensure preparation of comprehensive OBC lists in all states so that all Muslim OBCs are included in respective OBC lists. Provide quota within the OBC quota to Muslims. Ensure adequate representation for women in it.
Justice against communal violence
13. Provide justice to riot victims and mete out speedy punishment to the rioters. Provide adequate compensation on the lines of Delhi riot victims to all riot victims in the country (especially in Gujarat). Implement the recommendations of the Srikrishna Commission Report and other reports on communal violence without delay.
National Convention of Muslim Women
Date: 27th August 2008
Time: 10.30 am to 5.00 p.m.
Venue: Mavlankar Hall, Rafi Marg, New Delhi.
Inauguration 10.30 am
Session I: 11.00 a.m. Women and Work
Session II: 12 noon Denial of Citizenship Rights
Lunch: 1.00 p.m.
Session III: 2.00 p.m. Violence
Session IV: 3.00 p.m. Negotiating the Public Sphere
Placing and passage of Charter of Demands
Vote of Thanks 5.00 p.m.