Social activist Medha Patkar has asked for 50 per cent reservation for women in every sector, including the law-making bodies, and wondered who set the limit of 33 per cent and on what basis.
“Even after all the practices such as female foeticide, we are still around 50 per cent of our population, then why only 33 per cent reservation for us,” the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader asked to a round of big applause from the audience at the inauguration of the 20th anniversary of the Anweshi women’s forum on Monday.
Earlier, inaugurating the anniversary observation at the Town Hall in Kozhikode, Ms. Patkar said justice was hard to come by for women before equality was ensured to them. “Be it a riot, a natural calamity or an act of aggression by the authorities, women are the worst hit in every instance,” she said.
Talking about the challenges in taking ahead the struggles for justice for women, she said the dignity of women was always under threat. “From a justice in Supreme Court to a magazine editor, she is always looked upon by men as a ‘women’ and not as a human being,” she said.
The renowned social worker also said there was an increasingly severe need of communication between human beings even when there was a visible surge in the communication media in different forms.
According to her, what really mattered was direct communication between the people who were suffering and those who can fight for those who suffer. “Anweshi led by Ms. Ajitha was doing a great role here,” she said.
The Magsaysay Award winner said as she spoke news was coming to her from Mumbai of hundreds of slums being demolished by authorities leaving thousands of disadvantaged and most deprived sections in the society in endless trauma. “When each shelter is demolished, they are also brutally demolishing the dignity of the women inside it,” said an emotional Ms. Patkar.
She urged women’s organisations to work for new laws for the betterment of society. But even while taking up the struggles for justice for women, they should be careful not to be captives of any isms including feminism, Ms. Patkar said.
“When isms come, you are likely to bring in dogmatisms too, which can obstruct our sight,” she cautioned.
Anweshi president K. Ajitha presided over the function. Noted writer M.T. Vasudevan Nair, writer and social critic M.N. Karassery, social activist C.R. Neelakhantan, and tribal activist C.K. Janu among others spoke on the occasion.