The All-India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) has strongly opposed the decision of the Congress-led government to throw open the Indian retail market to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to the tune of 51 per cent in the multi-brand retail sector.

“This will have a very serious and adverse impact on around 1.5 crore small retailers in our country. The livelihood of more than 4 crore self-employed people is being placed at risk since the global retail giants are in a position to monopolise the market with their predatory pricing policies,” a statement issued by AIDWA said here on Tuesday.

Ninety eight per cent of retail trade is presently in the unorganised sector, and has already suffered due to the decision to allow large corporates such as Reliance and the ITC to enter into it in a big way. Women make up a significant proportion of the workforce, being involved in a variety of related activities from production to processing to packaging and vending, said the joint statement issued by the organisation's president Shyamali Gupta and general secretary Sudha Sundararam.

“Contrary to the arguments being put forth in favour of this move, farmers will also be at their mercy and this will lead to a further corporatisation of the farm sector, throwing out crores of women who work on their own farms. In addition, poor women who use the facility of buying in small quantities, often at credit, from the small retailers, will also have to forego this advantage,” AIDWA said.

“Retrograde decision”

The AIDWA said the UPA government must immediately withdraw the decision, and called upon its units across the country to support the bandh called by the retailers to voice opposition to this “retrograde and anti-people decision.”

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