Presidential Address : Women – Towards Political Empowerment

Presidential Address : Women – Towards Political Empowerment

Friday, August 14th, 2009

Dr Febeena Seethi
President,kerala Womens’ Front

First, I would like to thank the Almighty God for enabling us to be a part of this National Political Conference organized by Popular Front of India. The feeling of hope in the eyes of thousands of women gathered here proves the success of this historic event. We are gathered here today for a special goal. We have gathered here – away from the concerns of our children and family, away from celebrations, away from the busy schedule of day to day life – to bring about a change of thought within us as well as in other sisters.

How can we empower the oppressed minorities? 60 decades have past since independence. Still why there has been no change in the state of the backward classes of the society? What we women can – consisting almost half of the society – do to the upliftment of the subjugated section of our society. What ideals we women can pass over to the next generation that is being nurtured under us? How can we contribute to the making of a strong courageous generation? It is high time we think about all these things.

India is a strong secular democratic nation. Its constitution is mostly flawless. The makers of this Constitution, like Dr. Ambedkar dreamt that all citizens have equal rights and each one has an equal opportunity in building the nation. But India they had dreamt of has not come to reality. The concept of reservation for Minorities and backward classes, included in the constitution to ensure proportionate representation in power sharing has been made a mockery off. The majority classes are further strengthening their hold in governance by denying these rights. Many of those among the minorities and backward classes who have come to power through reservation have forgotten the very way they have come. Instead of supporting their communities, they are indulged in scams and worldly pleasure?

The ruling class tell us India prowess in the field of science and IT day by day. The moon mission has been successful. The number of crorepatis have increased. The inclusion of Americans of Indian origin in Obama’s group has been celebrated. But what is the reality? The propaganda that India is shining crumble miserably when we look at the condition of the backward classes I this country. Governments have failed even to provide the basic requirements like the Food, Clothes and shelter. The gullies and slums of northern are suffocated by the presence of Muslims. Sweet promises of electricity, education, health care are forgotten by these leaders soon after the elections. The discrimination of Muslim-majority areas by the administration have been proved by the Sachar committee report.

Indian National Congress who boast itself as secular party and Communist parties who claims to protect the interests of the Minorities have omitted these ideas from their practical agenda. The hope of the Dalits and minorities on Mayawatis BSP has been short lived. We have understood the real situation of the Muslim community. The state of Muslims in West Bengal –a state which has seen 30 years of Communist rule – is getting worse day by day.
The exploitation of Muslims as a vote bank has been continuing for decades. We women also must realize this. If we the Muslims unite for our rights, and stand firmly against denial of these rights we would be sending a clear message to those who brand us communal. Making awareness about ones rights and working unitedly for it is not communalism. We should instead identify the real communal forces who spread hatred amongst communities.

By branding the Muslims as “terrorist”, the fascist forces have been continually trying to segregate our community from the Society. The plague of fear has now been made to grip the society. The Muslim communities have failed to act in lines of the rich tradition of struggle in the face of police raids. What comes to my mind are the images of the sisters and children who are living in villages which have turned into war zones. Our disability is being made a mockery by enemies. Do we have the courage to ask Why are our bread-winners and our neighbors are taken away by the police, what is their crime, whether the supreme court directives have been observed while arresting them? There are thousand of Muslims are languishing in jails all over India awaiting trail. It was only after the real culprits behind Nanded and Malegoan blasts were being pointed out by the police and the mainstream media that Muslim organizations got the courage to speak out. The people have now realized that what we were telling for years was true.

To target women for destroying the dignity of the community has been a ploy of the Fascists. Fresh in our memories, are the rape and cold-blooded killings and chasing away of women in Gujarat which destroyed the whole fabric of the community. Hence, we women should never forget the riots of Gujarat and Mumbai, and the destruction of Babri Masjid .They shouldn’t be discarded as old stories. In our forgetfulness lies the victory of the Fascists. Every now and then, they engineer riots and pogroms. we are not helpless and hapless. We women can act firmly against these atrocities.

Remember that the first martyr in Islam was a woman. “We don’t know anything, we can’t do anything, help us” such feelings of helplessness should change. Instead we should raise the qualities of strength, sacrifice and struggle within us. We should pass this message of struggle for survival to the coming generations.

Capitalist and Colonial powers are insulting women by using them as a marketing commodity. Even the advertisement of a car or cigarette carries exposed women to attract clients. Beauty pageants are no more a western affair as we witness such events even in Kozhikkode. We are unknowingly appreciating superiority of white beauty over black. We forgot the prophetic heritage of respecting Hajara Beevi and Bilal. Capitalist forces are promoting a women society who are reluctant to become pregnant for fear of loosing beauty, who don’t give due care to serious thinking and live immersed in decor and beauty pageants. The Islamic way of dressing is the right defense for this tendency. when we prove that we are women who can think and work instead of charming others and exhibiting ornaments, we bring respect to this dressing.

Muslims though crores in number are fighting each other in the name of Fiqh and non issues. We don’t hesitate in sharing platforms with people who speak about wiping out Muslim community from India and practice it as their ideology. But at the same time we are reluctant to respect members of other Muslim organizations. This is exploited effectively by the enemy. The prime reasons for our pathetic condition are lack of unity and false pride. Muslims all over the world have only one god and one prophet even though there might be minor differences in some practices and observations. It’s high time to ignore all these differences and come united and move forward together.

One more thing; we women also should be aware of political, social and economic affairs also. Our history tells us so. We have leaders like Hazrath Khadeeja, Ayisha, Fathima, Ummu Ammara ,Zainabul Gazzali and Asiya Andrabhi etc. who inspired by quranic verses and teachings of the Prophet never turned their faces from social issues. In the freedom struggle for the independence our country as well as in the struggles in Palestine and Iraq we can see our sisters coming forward along with men. We will march forward insha allah with a declaration that we will strive hard to up bring a society which will be unique in self respect and pride.