IT HAPPENS ONLY IN INDIA,
GREAT JOB MR. PARMAR
it is good to eat as many as vegetables and fruits (totally vegetarian), but my aurvedic doctor asked me to stop eating every...
WITH the Bejing World Conference of
Women, 1995, taking off on September
4, different parts of India saw a flood of
meetings, conferences and seminars.
The Adivasi women's conference in
Rourkela, Orissa was held from June 18-
20, 1995. The conference was mainly
organised by groups working in the
Adivasi areas of eastern India with a perspective to develop a common understanding on the condition of the Adivasi women.
Participating groups hailed mainly
from Orissa, West Bengal, Madhya
Pradesh and Bihar. The Indian coordinating unit (cu) designated for the
Bejing conference, which facilitated the
process of building up a common
understanding of different women's
issues in India over the past 2 years, also
participated in the conference.
Preeti Oza of the cu says, "The need
to initiate discussions on tribal women's
issues came up in all our meetings and
forums because Adivasi women's concerns are different from those of the
men of their own community as also
from other women." Four groups -
FARR (Friends Association for Rural
Action) from Orissa, the Chhattisgarh
Mahila Jagruti Sanghatana from
Madhya Pradesh, Sanlaap from West
Bengal and Prerna Bharti from Bihar
came together to discuss issues.
FARR was given the responsibility to
act as a secretariat to the conference.
The tentative lists of concern were made in preparatory meetings and a general consensus We reached on the Adivasi women -
development, their control natural resources and forests, their health and perspectives on traditional cultural systems.
The conference took off with
different groups introducing their
areas of work. The successful
struggle against liquor initiated be
women in Kalahandi, Orissa.
inspired women from other state,
to tackle similar social ills.
Solidarity shown by the womer
towards an Orissa group involved
in the struggle for attaining control over minor forest producc
against the State Minor Forest Monopoly Purchase Board.
strengthened their resolve to fight for
justice. The women raised their concerns over fuelwood and fodder scarcity
and the time spent in collecting these
scarce resources. Several participant,
expressed anxiety over the Centre's proposed forest bill and resolved to fight
against it. Says a participant, "The proposed forest bill is anti-people. If
passed, the government can stop our entry into small patches of the remaining degraded forests. We have to oppose it."
On the closing day of the conference, all participants pledged themselves to implement the resolutions
finally adopted by the conference:
Land titles for government distributed land should include names of
Land titles for private lands should jointly be in the names of the husband
and the wife.
Government -leased hill lands for farm forestry purpose should be in the
names of Adivasi women.
Local women should have the right to collect fodder from the village grazing
Adivasis, and especially the women, should have control over the sale of
minor forest produce (MFP).
Licences for the collection and the sale of MFP should be discarded. This
clause also includes that the licence and
tax on the collection and sale of hillbrooms should be scrapped; and
thekedari (contractual) mediation for
the sale Of MFP should be ended and
women's groups should be given the
rights over their collection and sale.
The government should notify and
discuss development schemes with
Adivasi women and men before implementing them. At least 2/3rd of the rural
people should ratify any development
scheme before its implementation.
Besides, rehabilitation policy on displacement due to development should
be consented to by the rural people.
Brewing and selling of all country and foreign liquor should be stopped.
Policies must be adopted for the equal treatment of women, and violence
perpetrated by traditional customs should be stopped.
Local educational institutions should have textbooks in the mother-tongue of the indigenous community.
Television and radio broadcasts in Adivasi areas should present traditional
programmes in local languages.
The development of traditional medicine should be encouraged.
Women should not be shown as objects in advertising mediums.
Group discussions brought out different perceptions and understandings
on various issues in the conference.
While discussing 'violence', the groups
adopted a general consensus against the
practice of dowry. Regarding women's
control over forest produce, it was
debated whether the control should be
exercised over government forests, or
village forests. It was decided that the
resolution demanding the control over
forest produce should be limited to village forests.
Although almost all the
resolutions were unaDimously
approved, a resolution demanding "equal rights of boys
and girls in parental property"
was opposed by a few. Silomi
from Bihar opposed it on the
ground that "Adivasi land
could go to an non-Adivasi, if
the Adivasi woman married
outside the community", adding that "such cases were
increasing". Kalyani ofPrerna
Bharti said, "Resolutions
on the issues of rights over
jungle and banning of liquor
are Adivasi women's concerns. Their impacts have
been felt, understood and
discussed by most Adivasi
women present in the conference."
The success of the conference Jay in Carving out an
emotional space by the participants for
each other, facilitating dialogues despite
major differences. Finally, the participants dispersed with a sense of solidarity, resolving to meet consistently over
the coming year for formulating more
action plans. The conference's resolutions are expected to come up in the
Beijing women's conference as was decided.