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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Open Letter to the Prime Minister of India on the occasion of 107th #InternationalWomensDay

Open Letter to the Prime Minister of India on the occasion of 107th #InternationalWomensDay


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Hon'ble Prime Minister,

We, the undersigned 's organizations and other concerned groups, convey our greetings on the occasion of 8th March, Women's Day. This day has been celebrated for more than a hundred years to commemorate the women's movement's struggles for , justice and peace across almost all countries of the world.

On this memorable occasion, we are aware that you and your colleagues will be making speeches and statements to indicate how much this nation values the contribution of its women to the country's progress. We expect that many will praise women as mothers, caring family members and hard workers; we hope some will acknowledge the diverse struggles of women everywhere in securing freedom from violence and ensuring peace.

We appreciate your earlier efforts to promote the value of daughters and encourage education for the girl child. We therefore look forward to more announcements from you this year that will indicate just how much this nation, and your government, shows appreciation for the women of this country. We would especially like to draw your attention to women's work that produces food, goods, services, and care for the household as well as children who will be the future workforce of ; yet women's care work continues to remain invisible, unsupported and unshared. You must have noticed how everywhere women work simultaneously in fields, forests, water bodies, and at home; providing water, fuel, fodder, cooking, cleaning, caring of children, sick, elderly, yet they are often unpaid and sometimes get much lesser wages than men on farms, work sites, factories, and markets. In fact unpaid care and household work by women, even though it is ten times as much as men, remains unrecognized and unaccounted for in the System of National Accounts (SNA).

The McKinsey report (The Power of Parity, 2015) points out how the gap in employment is exacerbated by unfair conditions for working women who become pregnant. In India 95% women workers are in the informal and unorganized sector and do not receive any wage compensation during pregnancy and after childbirth, although we expect them to rest, gain weight, improve their own health and then provide the baby with exclusive breastfeeding for six months. The Economic Survey of India 2016 (Ministry of Finance, Government of India) points out that '42.2% Indian women begin pregnancy too thin and do not gain enough weight during pregnancy' and recommends that 'some of the highest economic returns to public investment in human capital in India lie in maternal and early life health and nutrition interventions.'

Sir, on the occasion of Women's Day we would earnestly request you to announce some substantial entitlements for women that would show very tangibly how much this country values women's contribution to society and their families: as workers, as mothers and as valuable members of communities.

I.        At the very least, we expect your leadership in immediate implementation of the National Food Security Act 2013, within which:

a.    The Central Scheme for Maternity Entitlements should immediately be up-scaled from its pilot phase into at least 200 high-priority districts especially including those with a larger proportion of tribal (ST) population. The universal guarantee of at least Rs. 6000/- is only to be read as a beginning, and it should subsequently be rationalised as wage compensation.

b.    Maternity entitlements in all sectors must be universal and unconditional, and not linked to the number of children or age of the woman, as that is fundamentally discriminatory to both women and children.

c.    Supplementary nutrition through locally prepared foods – preferably hot cooked meals to be supplied to all pregnant and lactating women at the local Angawadicentre. The money invested for such a meal is highly inadequate currently under the ICDS program, leading to poor quality and quantity of the supplementary nutrition

d.    The public distribution system must provide universal access to 10 kgs of cereals, I kg of pulses and 1 kg of oil rations under the NFSA.

II.        We also hope within a short time to see:

a.    The progressive realisation of nine months of maternity leave (three months before childbirth to six months after) with full compensation of wages for all women, calculated at least according to minimum wages at prevalent rates. This revision of the Maternity Benefits Act (1961) should recognise women's work in all spheres, markets, domestic, for care and reproduction and subsistence; and guarantee maternity entitlements to all pregnant women, adoptive parent(s), surrogate mothers etc without.

b.    Large scale campaigns that call upon men to increase their contribution to care work and domestic chores, and reduce the burden on women.

c.    Creche and breastfeeding facilities at every work place and community (through Anganwadi-cum-creches) to be made mandatory to ensure women can continue to work and care for the infant.

d.    Financial resources for maternity entitlements and crèches should come from all economic activities in the country  as a state obligation to ensure entitlements and services, since reproduction is a social function which benefits the family, society and the nation

Sir, on the occasion of Women's Day, while paying compliments and appreciating the role of women, we are sure the government would want to change the embarrassingly inadequate allocation of 400 crores for Maternity Entitlements against the requirement of 15000 crore annually.  We urge you to translate rhetoric into action by allocating resources for social security in maternity, and acknowledging unpaid reproductive work done by women in this country, even as you greet them on this Women's Day.

 

Dipa Sinha, Sejal Dand, Jashodhara Dasgupta and Sudeshna Sengupta

On behalf of:

  • Right to Food , India,
  • National Alliance for Maternal Health and Human Rights (NAMHHR),
  • Working Group for Children under Six,
  • Alliance for Right to Early Childhood Development

Contacts:

Jashodhara Dasgupta: 9910203477

Sejal Dand: 08130200062

Dipa Sinha: 9650434777

Sudeshna  Sengupta: 9811065400

Also endorsed by the following 135 organizations and individuals from across India:

  1. Abha Bhaiya, JAGORI Rural, HP
  2. Adarsh Sharma, Former Director, NIPCCD
  3.  ADHIKAR SAMITI, 
  4. AGRAGAMI INDIA, Patna
  5. ALL INDIA DRUG ACTION NETWORK
  6. AMAN BIRADARI, Gujarat
  7. ANANDI, Area Networking And Development Initiatives Gujarat
  8. Anjali Bopat, SWADHAR, Maharashtra
  9. ANNA SURAKSHA ADHIKAR ABHIYAN, Gujarat
  10. Anubha Rajesh, ICFI
  11. Asha Singh, Lady Irwin College
  12. Ashalatha- MAKAAM Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch,
  13. Ashalatha, MAHILA KISAN ADHIKAR MANCH
  14. Arundhati Dhuru and Suhas Kolhekar NATIONAL ALLIANCE FOR PEOPLE'S MOVEMENTS
  15. Bharat Randive, researcher
  16. Bharti Kumar& Sophy Joseph, National Law University, Delhi
  17. Bimla Chandrasekhar, EKTA RESOURCE CENTRE FOR WOMEN, Madurai
  18. Biswa Ranjan Patnaik, CARE India
  19. C. Ramakrishnan,  BHARATIYA GYAN VIGYAN SAMITI
  20. Chandan Kumar, ACTION AID India
  21. Chhaya Pachauli and Narendra Gupta, PRAYAS
  22. Chinu Srinivasan LOCOST
  23. Chirashree Ghosh, DELHI FORUM For Crèches And Childcare Services, NEENV
  24. Devaki Nambiar, Public Health Researcher, New Delhi
  25. DEVGARH MAHILA SANGATHAN Gujarat
  26. Devika Singh, Zakiya Kurien, Nikita Agarwal, ALLIANCE FOR RIGHT TO ECD
  27. Dr. Kavita Bhatia, Independent researcher
  28. Dr. Mohan Rao, Professor, CSMCH JNU Delhi
  29. FORUM FOR ENGAGING MEN
  30. Gabriel Dietrich Pennurimai Iyakkam
  31. Geeta Menon & others, STREE JAGRUTI SAMITI
  32. DOMESTIC WORKERS RIGHTS UNION
  33. Guliben Nayak, DEVHADH MAHILA SANGATHAN
  34. HEALTHWATCH FORUM Uttar Pradesh
  35. Hema Srinivas
  36. Imrana Qadeer ex Professor JNU Delhi
  37. Inayat Singh Kakar, Research Associate TISS, Mumbai
  38. Indira Hirway, CENTRE FOR DEVELOPMENT ALTERNATIVES, Ahmedabad
  39. Indrani Mazumdar, CENTRE FOR WOMEN'S DEVELOPMENT STUDIES
  40. Isfaqur Rahaman,  ELLORA VIGYAN MANCHA, Guwahati, Assam
  41. JAN SWASTHYA ABHIYAN
  42. J P Dadhich BREASTFEEDING PROMOTION NETWORK OF INDIA
  43. Jahnvi Andharia, Neeta Hardikar, ANANDI, Gujarat
  44. Jameela Nashid
  45. Jameela Nishat
  46. JAN SWASTH ABHIYAAN, Mumbai
  47. Jaya Iyer, KHADYA NYAY ABHIYAN
  48. Jayashree Satpute, NAZDEEK, Assam
  49. Jigisha Shastri
  50. Juhi Jain
  51. Kavita Bhatia, independent researcher
  52. Kavita  Kuruganti, ASHA
  53. Kavita Panjabi, Professor, Jadavpur University.
  54. KARNATAKA JANAAROGYA CHALUVALI
  55. Khaledaben, MALIYA MAHILA SHAKTI SANGATHAN
  56. Lakshmi LIngan, TISS Mumbai
  57. Lakshmi Menon
  58. Lalita Ramdas, Alibag, Raigad, Maharashtra
  59. Mahesh Pandya, PARYAVARAN MITRA , Gujarat
  60. MAHILA  MANCH, Gujarat
  61. Mandavi Jaykar, Jindal Global Law School
  62. Manisha Gupte, Women's Health Rights Activist, Pune
  63. Manmohan Sharma, VOLUNTARY HEALTH ASSOCIATION, Punjab, Chandigarh
  64. Mira Shiva,  INITIATIVE FOR  HEALTH AND EQUITY IN SOCIETY
  65. Mohan Rao, Professor CSM-CH JNU
  66. Moumita Biswas, ALL INDIA COUNCIL OF CHRISTIAN WOMEN, National Council of Churches in India
  67. Mridul Eapen, CENTRE FOR DEVELOPMENT STUDIES, Trivandrum
  68. Mridula Bajaj, Amrita Jain and Sonia Sharma, MOBILE CRECHES
  69. Mujaheed Nafees, SHALA MITRA SANGH, Gujarat
  70. Nasim Ansari, TARUN CHETNA, Pratapgarh UP
  71. Neeru Chaudhury, CHILDREACH India
  72. Nina P Nayak, Bangalore
  73. Niranjan Aradhya, CENTRE FOR CHILD AND LAW, National Law School of India University, Bangalore
  74. Padma Bhate-Deosthali, Mumbai
  75. Padmini Swaminathan, TISS, Hyderabad
  76. Pallavi Gupta, Public Health Practitioner Delhi
  77. Pallavi Sobti Rajpal, UTTHAN, Gujarat
  78. PEACE AND EQUALITY CELL, Gujarat
  79. Poonam Kathuria SWATI Gujarat
  80. Prasad Chacko, HDRC St. Xavier's College, Gujarat
  81. Preeti Darooka, PWESCR Programme on Women's Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  82. R. Padmini, CHILD RIGHTS TRUST, Bangalore
  83. R. Srivatsan, ANVESHI Research Centre for Women's Studies, Hyderabad
  84. Radha Holla Bhar, New Delhi
  85. Radhika Desai,  Feminist Scholar and Independent Researcher, Hyderabad
  86. Rahul Purkayastha, Centre of MEDICAL & SALES REPRESENTATIVES UNION (North East Region)
  87. Rajalakshmi RamPrakash, Independent Researcher, Chennai
  88. Rajni Palriwala, Professor of Sociology, Delhi University
  89. Rakhi Sehgal, Hero Honda Theka Mazdoor Sangathan/NEW TRADE UNION INITIATIVE
  90. Raman VR, Public Health Practitioner, New Delhi
  91. Ravi Duggal, Health Researcher and Activist, Mumbai
  92. Razia Ismail, INDIA ALLIANCE FOR CHILD RIGHTS
  93. Rekha Sharma Sen, IGNOU
  94. Renu Khanna SAHAJ Vadodara
  95. Ridhi Sethi, Researcher
  96. Rohit Prajapati Activist
  97. Rukhiben Pagi, PANAM MAHILA SANGATHAN
  98. Rukmini Rao, GRAMYA Resource Centre
  99. Sachin Kr. Jain, VIKAS SAMVAD, Madhya Pradesh
  100. Sadhna Arya, University of Delhi
  101. SAHELI WOMEN'S RESOURCE CENTRE, Delhi
  102. SAMA Women's Health organization, Delhi
  103. SAMYAK Pune
  104. Sandipan Paul, Freelance Consultant, ECCE
  105. Sandhya YK SAHAYOG
  106. Sanjib Sikdar, DESHABANDHU CLUB, Cachar, Assam
  107. Santosh Mahindrakar, Research Scholar JNU
  108. Sarojini N.B., New Delhi
  109. SATHI, Pune
  110. Satish Kumar Singh, MENENGAGE New Delhi
  111. Satnam Singh, JSA Haryana
  112. Savitri Roy, FORUM FOR CRÈCHES AND CHILDCARE SERVICES
  113. Seema Kulkarni- SOPPECOM
  114. Shakeel, CHARM, Bihar
  115. Sheila Devaraj, APSA
  116. Shewli, TISS Mumbai
  117. Shishir Chandra, MASVAW. UP
  118. Shraddha Chickerur, Doctoral Candidate, University of Hyderabad
  119. Soma KP, Collective for Advancement of Womens Land and Livelihoods Rights
  120. Soumik Bannerjee, Jharkhand
  121. Sudha Sundaraman ALL INDIA DEMOCRATIC WOMEN'S ORGANIZATION
  122. Sukriti Gangola, IPE Global
  123. Sulakshana Nandi, RIGHT TO FOOD CAMPAIGN, CHHATTISGARH
  124. Suneeta Dhar, New Delhi.
  125. Suroor Mander , Advocate
  126. Susana Barria, Public Services International (PSI) India affiliates
  127. Susie Tharu, Hyderabad
  128. SWAYAM, Kolkata
  129. Trupti Shah SAHIYAR Gujarat
  130. Uma V Chandru, CHET (Centre For Health Ecologies And Technology) Bangalore
  131. Usha Abrol, KGNMT, Karnataka
  132. Usha Rani K, APD India
  133. Usha Seethalakshmi
  134. Vasudeva Sharma, CHILD RIGHTS TRUST
  135. Vasudha Iyengar
  136. Veena Poonacha
  137. Veena Shatrugna, ex-Dy. Director, National Institute of Nutrition
  138. Venita Kaul, CECED Centre For Early Childhood Education And Development
  139. Vimala Ramakrishnan, New Delhi
  140. Virginia Saldanha, INDIAN CHRISTAIN WOMEN'S MOVEMENT
  141. Yogesh Jain, JAN SWASTHYA SAHYOG, Chhattisgarh
  142. Yogesh Kumar, SAMARTHAN- Centre for Development Support, Bhopal

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