Sixth Conference of POW (Telengana) Successfully Held in Khammam

The sixth Conference of Progressive Organization of Women (POW) was held in Khammam, Telengana (It was the first conference of POW Telengana) on 4th and 5th January 2015. This was preceded by a rally and mass meeting by POW on 3rd January.
More than 10,000 women mostly holding red flags of POW, marched through Khammam town in a blaze of red from S.R. & B.G.N.R. College grounds to Pavilion grounds in a two and a half kilometer trek on 3rd afternoon. Preceded by Arunodaya activists who sang and danced folk dances (similar to dandiya) through the streets, they attracted the town’s population to come out of offices and homes to watch the procession. The rally was headed by flag and banner bearing executive committee members of POW Telengana along with guests from sister organizations of AP, Punjab and Delhi along with other guests.
The mass meeting at Pavilion grounds was packed with scintillating and colourful performances by Arunodaya teams of the various districts. Com Jhansi (President POW Telengana) conducted the proceedings. Chief Guest Shanta Sinha (erstwhile chairperson of National Childs Rights Committee, currently with Central University Hyderabad and also a founder member of POW) was the first speaker. She emphasized on the need to involve men in the defence of women’s rights, and placed the need for more schools equipped with basic services to cater to education needs. The next speaker was Com. Aparna from IFTU who outlined the challenges before the women’s movement at the current juncture and highlighted that fight against patriarchy involves solidarity with the revolutionary movement which will upturn the structures which sustain patriarchy. She then released a book of songs “ O Mahila Kadilira” complied and published by POW Telengana. Com. Aruna (General Secretary, POW Telengana) spoke about the issues for which women in Telengana have been fighting, also raising the need for wage parity with men. Com. Rama (President, POW, Andhra Pradesh) and Com. Laxmi (General Secretary, POW, Andhra Pradesh) spoke on the issues and challenges before the women’s movement. Com. P. Ranga Rao (State Committee member and Khammam Dist. Secretary of CPI(ML)-New Democracy) spoke of the expectations of the people including women in the newly formed state of Telengana and the need for building struggles. Com. R. Chandrashekhar (Telengana State Committee member of CPI(ML)-New Democracy) addressed nearly 15,000 strong meeting which continued upto 10 PM.
Next morning formal Conference proceedings got off to a start at Susenna-Chinta Laxmi Nagar at Kalakshetram. The delegates to the conference were elected from nine districts of Telengana and represented a membership of 50,000. The POW flag was hoisted by Com. Jhansi to powerful songs remembering the martyrs and slogan shouting by the 500 delegates.
At the inaugural session first the Chairperson of the Reception Committee, Ms. Vijeyeta welcomed the delegates and the guests. Following this the Conference was inaugurated by the Chief Guest, Rama Malkote, erstwhile Professor at Osmania University . She pointed out that while production processes fissured with globalization, this was also a period when in India movements tended to be fissured into identity movements. Raising several questions, she said that united movements of various identity movements were necessary. After this, the Telegu translation of the message from Nandita Haksar, who was to have been a Guest at the Conference but could not attend due to severe sudden illness, was read out. In her message dealing with different types of oppressions faced by women she observed, “We have to bring class struggle to the centre stage of political life. I myself have been involved in fights on behalf of Naga people and Kashmiris but I feel increasingly the ethnic, the religious and the nationality divisions should not allow us to undermine the idea of class solidarity or the solidarity of the poor”
Representatives of sister organizations- Com. Poonam (Gen. Sec. PMS Delhi), Com Amandeep (Gen. Sec. Stree Jagriti Manch –Punjab), Coms. Rama and Lakshmi (President and Gen. Sec. of POW Andhra Pradesh) gave solidarity messages from their organizations. Com. P Ranga Rao (Member State Committee of CPI(ML) New Democracy)also addressed the meeting as also Com. KR (AIKMS) and representatives of PDSU,PYL and IFTU. A cartoon exhibition was also on display which was inaugurated by Com. Sandhya.
In the next session, Com. Vimla addressed the delegates on the effects on women of the new economic policies while Com. Devi (cultural activist) spoke about the cultural changes and how they are affecting women. Com. Jhansi then presented the Constitution of Telengana POW which was approved and passed by the Conference. Com. Aruna then presented the Gen. Sec.’s report which was discussed and passed with several suggestions of the delegates.
The Conference passed a 23 member executive and elected 21 members leaving two posts for co-option.Com. Jhansi was elected as President, Com. Aruna as Gen. Sec., Coms. Godavari (Nizamabad), Jyoti (Adilabad) and Jyoti (Karimnagar) as Vice Presidents and Coms. Kalpana (Khammam), Padma (Karimnagar) and Jaya (Mehboobnagar) as Joint Secretaries.
The Conference gave a Call For Struggle for immediate formation of Women’s Commission in Telengana and for Ban on Surrogacy. It declared 23rd January as a Protest Day on these issues. The Conference passed resolutions demanding regularization of women contract workers in Telengana, for Bidi workers (maximally women) to be paid Rs.1000/ per month as per electoral promise of TRS leaders, against move to ban feature film PK, demanding equal opportunities in education and health for women, and reservation for women in Parliament and Assemblies.