ALL INDIA RAILWAYMEN’S FEDERATION
94TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE 1-3 NOVEMBER, 2018, KOTA
19th AGM OF ALL INDIA WOMEN COMMITTEE OF AIRF
ANNUAL REPORT – 2017-2018
Women can never be emancipated in the anti-labour era, because the system itself is based on the exploitation of the Working Class, and Women are an inseparable part of the toiling masses. The leadership of All India Railwaymen’s Federation(AIRF) felt that, gender inequality is not a feminine issue, but a class issue and must be fought against by the workers as a class by both men and women. Thus, organizing working women is not a task of only women, but a task of the whole working class. Now, working women have an important role in the trade union. Their participation is vital, not only as part of the working class, but also in the democratic movement. They add new dimensions to the struggles. Once they are convinced and motivated, their participation is total and militant. Women become loyal members of the unions if their specific issues are taken care of and some gains are achieved through the struggles. Women workers are ready to make any sacrifice needed for their struggles and they also have a clear vision of their rights. They are morally very strong and do not easily back out from the struggles. Through our struggles we have achieved many things, such as Equal Wage/Opportunities, Maternity Benefits, Child Care Benefits, No Deployment in Night Shift, Safety and Security/Protection, Provisions Of Crèche, Rest Rooms etc., but in the long dark path still to cover.
A number of leaders of AIRF family have sacrificed their lives for the sake of workers’ rights and dignity. In these struggles women leaders were not behind anywhere, even at the time when working women were an exception. Com. Maniben Kara was the President of this esteemed organization(AIRF) from 1963 to 1968. As a trade union leader she urged workers to fight for the freedom of the country. She was arrested on May Day in 1932 as a measure by the colonial government to suppress her raging spirit and was kept under solitary imprisonment as there were no female prisoners. She was honoured by the Government of India in 1970 with Padma Shri. Needless to say that, leadership of AIRF and its affiliates is committed towards building capacity of the women and promoting their participation in the union. Trade union density is even lower in the informal sector than in the formal sector. Women comprise around 129 million out of the total workforce, and the employment of women in India is primarily in the informal sector. 96% of all women employed in the economy work in the informal sector but in the organized sector, they constitute only 4 per cent. Women’s organizations have led powerful movements and struggles for their rights. Many laws to protect them are on the statute book. On the other hand, oppression and atrocities against women have been on the increase for some years now. Cases of wife-beating, dowry deaths, kidnappings, molestation, rape and amniocentesis (killing of female fetus in the womb) are common. If we consider the innumerable forms of violence women in India are subjected to, it’s a testament to their determination and strength that so many women survive, grow, and achieve so much.
Hon’ble Shri Shiva Gopal Mishra Ji, General Secretary, Shri Rakhal Das Gupta Ji, President AIRF, distinguished guests, all the Honorable Member of AIRF fraternity, on behalf of AIRF and its Affiliates’ Women Wing I am privileged to extend a warm welcome to all of you on this promising occasion of the 19th Annual Conference of Women’s Wing of AIRF. The grand occasion of the 94nd Annual Conference of AIRF starts from today, 1st November, 2018, for which responsibility of all arrangements for your comfortable stay have been made by WCRMU, and they have put-in all their efforts to make this conference historic here at Kota. To truly understand what women empowerment; there are needs to be a sea-change in the mind-set of the people in the society. Not just the women themselves, but the men have to wake up to a world that is moving towards equality and equity. It is better that, this is embraced earlier rather than later, for our own good. Eradicating this gap and educating men and women about their responsibilities; sharing is taking place in our sector is a step that will largely set this entire movement rolling down the hill to crash and break the wall of intolerance, negligence and exploitation against women. Our leadership is moving on the path laid by our great leaders for promotion of women activist, I feel proud to mention here that, along with provision of two posts for its women representatives through a historic decision of Railway Board in PNM Forum they are continuously perusing for more and more active women participation in the trade union activity and their capacity building to make them leaders for tomorrow. General Secretary AIRF, visionary leader, Com S.G Mishra, has made several decisions to promote women participation as well made their voice on decision making fora. In the capacity of General Secretary NRMU/NR he amended constitution for “compulsory at least one seat for women leaders at each level of the structure in the union” to promote women participation at decision making level. Women Wing is mandatory part of each affiliate from Zonal to Branch level and Women Chairperson and Convener will be mandatory part of all important meeting and committee. A number of women delegates are gracing the post and shouldering their responsibilities, some of them are – Ms Chapla Banerji as President/ERMU,Ms Klawati,AGS/ SCRMU and Ms Meena Saxsena AGS/NWREU,Ms Jaya Lakshmi Mukund,AGS/NRMU(CR), Com. Kamakshi R.K., AGS/NRMU/CR,Ms Harjeet Kaur,CVP/NRMU(NR),Ms Praveena Singh,CVP/NRMU(NR),Ms Seema Kaushik,CVP/ SCRMU, Ms P.H. Sophia,GS/WRKU,Ms Meena Saxena,AGS/NWREU,Ms Jaya Lakshmi,AGS/ SWRMU.
Women Issues AIRF’s Priority – AIRF has always remained sensitive towards the working conditions, security, safety and privileges to the women employees. AIRF had persuaded the Railway Board to provide Separate Changing Room, Wash Room, Toilet, Running Room etc. for Women Railway Employees and succeeded in getting instructions issued by the Railway Board in this regard. It is disappointing to note that, orders issued on the persuasions of AIRF, in the PNM Forum at the Railway Board level, are still not being implemented. We are regularly pursuing the same for implementation thereof. A large number of women are working as Trackman, Gateman in the Remote Areas, Asstt. Loco Pilot, Loco Pilot and Guard, and they are facing a lot of problems, In view of hardship and unwell working condition, AIRF raised the issue with THE Railway Board, demanding one time exemption for their change of category for women working under tough circumstances. AIRF is also struggling against 20% cut in the salary while availing Child Care Leave after 365 days.
Calendar of Activities of AIRF Women: – Huge number of women participated with great zeal in all of day to be declared to observe.
- 1st Jan 2018 observed as National Black Day by AIRF at each of branch. Huge number of women comrade start their year with anguish against anti labor policies.
- 19th Feb 2018 women comrades participated in JAN JAGRAN SAPTAH and put their all efforts to educate railway employee regarding forthcoming challenges over industry as well on workers.
- 13th March 2018 huge participation of women comrade in call for DHARNA at Parliament made this call momentous.
- 8th-11th May 2018 Relay Hunger Strike, huge women participation at each branch demanding scrapping of New Pension Scheme, redressal of anomalies of VII CPC, improvement in minimum wage and fixation formula, restoration of various allowances etc.
- Trade Union awareness and education specific for women comrades are being held almost each zone.
- Zonal women conferences are also held during the year on all zones, few of zones taking lead and by holding divisional women conference at their zone to increase women in TU movement.
Adherence of Annual Days
25th Nov 2017 – International Day for Elimination of Violence and Harassment against Women all the AIRF affiliates are observed the International Day for Elimination of Violence and Harassment against Women in befitting manner. This day is observed by all of the Zonal affiliates from their branch to the HQ level along with their women committee for the elimination of violence against women, with great zeal and enthusiasm to encourage participation of women in unions hence to break the silence and a ‘NO to violence against women’ is the first step towards it Male co- workers also participated in the campaign ‘BREAK THE SILENCE.’
1st Dec 2017 – World HIV-AIDS Day on the occasion of world HIV day all our affiliates organized welfare programmes like blood donation camp, free medical check-up specifically for creating awareness about the global and alarming cause at regional level. The myths were removed and the facts were brought into light by regional women’s committee. On the call of International Transport Workers’ Federation, “World HIV/AIDS Day” was observed by the affiliates of AIRF all over the Indian Railways on 1st December, 2017 in a well-manner, to educate the rank and file of the union about HIV/AIDS.
8th March 2018 – International Women’s Day – International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage. It is also an opportunity to consider how to accelerate the 2030 Agenda women in the Changing world of work: Planet 50-50 by 2030’, asking for- Be Bold for Change to build momentum for the effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, to achieve gender equality and empower all women. It highlights on to call the masses or yourself to put efforts to make a more gender inclusive world. In view of above, ITF has taken initiative to spread the agenda of UN through current year’s theme ‘PRESS FOR PROGRESS’ to secure women Transport Workers’ Rights and equality. The theme focuses to achieve gender equality, empowerment and Human rights of all working women. On the occasion of IWD Honorable Gen. Secy. /AIRF Com. Shiva Gopal Mishra, delivered his message that Join us to transform the momentum into action, to empower women in all and to celebrate the activists who are working relentlessly to claim women’s rights and realize their full potential. He said, present time is tough for workers “AIRF, being free, democratic and an independent organization, will leave no stone unturned for the sake of the employees as well as Railway Industry, We are committed to fight for justice and right for the last employee in the Railway Industry. With the observation of ‘International Women’s Day 2018’ the awareness on gender related issues which includes equal opportunities and safe working environment, eliminate discrimination and violence against women at workplace was spread amongst the INDIAN RAILWAY WOMEN working all around the nation. Women’s Day is a reminder of vigilance and action required to ensure they gain and maintain equality in all aspects of life. Join us to transform the momentum into action, to empower women in all and to celebrate the activists who are working relentlessly to claim women’s rights and realize their full potential.
National Forum and Women Advocacy Programme of AIRF was held on 26th-27th December 2017, in T.N. Bajpai Memorial Hall, New Delhi. General Secretary AIRF, Com. Shiva Gopal Mishra, inaugurated the programme. The major issues discussed were – Assessment of women structure in Zonal Union, Feedback of National Forum Held on Dec 2017, Group Activity on SWOT, Leadership Quality, Challenges faced by women workers at workplace and Union, Road map of 2019, Developing of work plan for future-2019, Preparation of To-Do List of 2019, Women Advocacy, Issues of Decent Work, Gender sensitization, How to increase interest in union, Safety and security, “Sustainability” of Women leaders in Trade Union Movement, Our Duties and responsibilities towards Organization and Union, Taking future challenges seriously and works for it together, Self development and respect for each other etc., Journey of AIRF women, Sexual harassment, A blue print of calendar of education, activities and capsule of course was unanimously proposed.
- Women committee are formed and working in its full capacity in almost all affiliated Zones of AIRF.
- All the nominated days were observed and number of women were attended all Protest/ Dharan/Road Shows and other meetings held by Zones.
- Many of zones have amended their constitution by mandatory inclusion of women in each of body and Increase of women activist and visibility of women in TU.
- Women larders are having position in Central body structure to branch level in almost zones.
- Increase in mutual acceptance/respect and Women leaders are shouldering the responsibilities.
- Few of zones/PUs is still on the way to meet with the organizing women and increase visibility of women power in their unions. General Secretary personally keeps watching and leaving no stone unturned.
- Uses of Social Web sites such as Face book, watsap, Twitter etc. has been visibly increased in women activist and this will become indispensable tool for Net working.
- A national programme on Women Advocacy was held on 26-28 Dec 2017 , which adhere by NRMU Women Committee Meeting and a Zonal workshop followed by national workshop held on 18-20 May 2018 in which the pilot project of Women advocacy ( mahila sagini) starts with Delhi Division. Along with mahila sangini Sh. Sunil Jaglan (http://www.selfiewithdaughter.com) co partner from NGO Founder of Selfie with Daughter Foundation was welcomed as AIRF approached Sh. Sunil Jaglan to be the part of Mahila Sanginis. Sh. Sunil jaglan sate that I felt honoured and glad while working with All India Railwaymen’s Federation and its team of Mahila Sanginis.
- NRMU(NR) Women Committee demanded for “The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013” within union – in our zonal women conference held on 18-20 may 2018 ,it was unanimously adopted in working committee on 20th Sept 2018 at Pathankot, which has created confidence and sense of security among our women comrades.
Union activists from AIRF affiliates attended the following Conferences/Workshops/Programmes organized by the ITF and AIRF during the period under report are appended are:-
- Ms Sonia Hasiza, Zonal Treasurer, Northern Railwaymen’s Union, Ms Divya Sharma, Zonal Women Convener/NRMU(NR),Ms. Parul Mathur, Youth Activist/NWREU, Ms. Harsha S. Shelke, Youth Convener NRMU(CR), Ms Smita Jadhav, Youth Convener National Railway Mazdoor Union, Ms. Sangeeta Kaur, Youth Convener WREU, Ms Saheli Sarkar, President Zonal Women Committee/ERMU, Ms Divya Shree, Women Convener SCRMU, Ms Roselyne Arockia Mary, Asstt. Secretary SRMU, Ms Jayalakshmi J.R., Asstt. General Secretary SWRMU, Ms Rupali Y. Meshram, Women Activist, Western Railway Employees’ Union, Ms Poonam Dabas, Zonal Youth Organizer, NRMU(NR), attended “Training of Trainers’ Workshop for Mahila Sanginis – 18-20 January, 2018, Lonavala”.
- Ms Jaya Agarwal, Chairperson Women Wing/AIRF,Sonia Hasiza Zoanl Treasure w. wing NRMU, Neena G Yadev Org. Sec. W Wing NRMU Anita Rawat Chairperson A/cs Div. NRMU Ms. Sukhpal Kaur, Divisional WCM/NRMU(CR), Ms. Swati Mhatre, Divisional VP/NRMU(CR) and Ms Perin Sophiya Harsh, AGS/WREU, attended Workshop for Women Activists on affiliates of ITF at Lonavala on 27-28 February, 2018.
- Ms Preeti Singh attended ITF Young Transport Workers’ Committee Meeting – 27–29 March 2018, Turkey.
- Ms Mridula Kumari, Working President, Zonal Women Committee of East Central Railway Karamchari Union, Ms Priyanka Malhotra, Youth Rep., Northern Railwaymen’s Union, attended “ITF-FNV Strategic Planning Workshop for South Asian Gender Project – 21-23 February, 2018, New Delhi”.
- Ms Parnika Priyadarshini and Ms Bhawana Sharma from NRMU(NR), attended “ITF-FNV Skills Training Workshop for Women Activists in South Asia – Colombo(Sri Lanka),10-11 July, 2018”.
- Ms Divya Sharma, Zonal Women Convener, NRMU(NR), Ms. Parul Mathur, Youth Activist, NWREU, Ms. Harsha S. Shelke, Youth Convener, NRMU(CR), Ms Anita Kadam, VP/NRNMU(CR)/Pune, , Com. Shamil P. Parambil, Youth Convener, NRMU(CR) and Ms Poonam Dabas, Zonal Youth Organizer, NRMU(NR), attended “ITF supporting negotiations with employers’ workshop and participatory research on gender-based occupational segregation”- 18-20th July, 2018, New Delhi.
- 44th ITF Congress was held in Singapore from 14-20 October, 2018 which was attended by 42 activist of AIRF under leadership of Com. Shiva Gopal Mishra, Com. C.A. Rajasridhar, Com. J.R. Bhosale, Com. Venu P. Nair,where in 10 women were represented AIRF :- Ms Jaya Agarwal, Smt. Praveena Singh, Smt. Preeti Singh, Ms. Prajakta Tripathi, Ms Priyanka Malhotra, Ms. Divya Sharma, Ms. Snehlata Shukla, Sunita Jaggi, Vaijayanti Dixit, Perinsophiya Sunilkumar Harsh, it was biggest ever troop of AIRf attended prestigious International Conference. AIRF troop back with feather on its hat by -Com. C.A. Rajasridhar, Vice President AIRF, has been elected as Vice Chair of the ITF Railway Section, Com. Smt. Preeti Singh of NRMU(NR) as “Youth Representative”, ITF(Asia/Pacific Region), myself as Vice Chairmen of the Tourism Section of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF/APR). Smt. Praveena Singh has been elected as “Women Representative” of the Tourism & Service Section and Smt. Jaya Agarwal as “Women Representative” of the ITF (Asia/Pacific Region).
It is inbuilt conviction that women are capable of less work than men or less efficient than men. It is need of time to intended to assist women and men trade unionists to face up the challenge equality presents and make changes in the unions, changes at work and changes in our attitudes to each other. This Manual is intended for use by both women and men. Conception of idea is one thing but nurturing it and giving it visible shapes another, on behalf of women workers of entire Indian railways, I thank our General Secretary for his relentless endeavor and continuous support towards women recognition, participation and empowerment related issues. In any organization the ideologies and visions flow from apex to grass root level and he has made applaud able efforts for not only penetration of these ideologies but also ensuring freedom, confidence and comfort throughout the organizational environment. The report that I have just cited now is testimony to the progress that has been made so far on the development front. It also serves to be an active reminder of the miles to be traversed, goals to be achieved and hopes to be translated into success with even greater and vigorous efforts. When I say all this, one point that is most important to be realized is the necessity of individual and further cumulative effort of each one of us, a prime realization of the fact that each one of us shares equal responsibility in contributing to the mission that we have set for ourselves.
Women Wing AIRF