Apart from additional work and lower wages, anganwadi workers also faced boycott, lathi-charge, and were beaten and raped, State president of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions Varalakshmi U. said on Friday.
Speaking during a two-day seminar on Women's movements and struggles organised by the Department of Kannada at Mangalore University, Ms. Varalakshmi said that she was only around 20 years old at the time. Years later, she and 20,000-25,000 women descended to Bangalore travelling ticketless from all parts of the state, with a bundle of rotis on their heads and children on their hips, demanding better wages and working conditions for anganwadi workers.
“If thousands of us slept on the road for several nights, with nowhere to go in the rain, imagine the kind of problems we faced. To escape feeling wretched about being drenched in the rain along with our children, we sang songs and danced in the rain,” she said. Ms. Varalakshmi said that after the State Government increased the wages of anganwadi workers, they had not received their honorariums for five months. The government scientifically calculates that a human body needs to consume 2,400 calories a day, but it does not compute wages in the same way.
Some months ago, the government had also increased their working hours up to 4 p.m. Despite this, they had not stopped imposing other work on them. “When the government wants any kind of information or survey to be done, they tell anganwadi workers to do it. Anganwadi workers distributed Bhagyalakshmi bonds containing images of the then Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa's face and the party symbol from door to door,” she said.
Secretary of Bangalore-based Vimochana Dona Fernandes said reports of violence against women have risen over the years and have taken various forms. She attributed it to rise in desire for money. Vice-Chancellor T.C. Shivashankar Murthy spoke on the discrimination against women in the Nobel Prize Award for a uranium-related research and for the double-helix model of DNA. The real work in both cases, he said, was done by women whose contribution was not recognised.