It should work as a unified front for the welfare of women: Wings Kerala founder
Women activists in Kerala are planning to float a political organisation within three years to establish a platform to highlight women’s issues.
The decision was taken at a closed-door meeting held in Kozhikode on Sunday under the aegis of the Asanghatitha Meghala Thozhilali Union (AMTU) and Penkoottu as part of a five-day programme in connection with International Women’s Day.
J. Devika, activist-writer from the Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, stressed the need to ensure the participation of women in grama sabhas and influence policy making in local self-governing bodies, especially urban ones. Ms.Devika pointed out the need to uphold the idea of ‘Penkoottu’, where the group will support women during crises, irrespective of their political affiliation.
N. Vinaya, the founder of Thrissur-based Wings Kerala that promotes physical activities among women, said the structure of the political organisation should be such that political differences were set aside to work as a unified front for the welfare of women.
P. Viji, the president of AMTU and Penkoottu, said established political parties had always tried to hijack their protests, against which they fought tooth and nail. The idea of a political organisation independent from established ideologies had thus originated.
“From the time we were fighting for toilets in S.M. Street seven years ago, several political outfits forced us to join them. Sometimes, our protests were hijacked by these outfits at the last minute,” said Ms. Viji and added that the new political outfit would be based on feminist ideologies.
K. Ajitha, the founder of Anweshi and a driving force behind the formation of both Penkoottu and Wings Kerala, was present.
As part of the Women’s Day campaign, AMTU is organising a theatre camp at the Youth Hostel at East Hill on Monday and Tuesday on the topic, ‘The modern face of women-centric theatre’.
The outcome of the camp will be presented at the public convention to be held at Muthalakkulam ground at 3 p.m. on March 8. Women activists will be honoured. The evening will be enriched with plays and an orchestra of songs from theatre.
AMTU shot into limelight two years ago with its ‘right to sit’ campaign for saleswomen in textile shops across the State. They have taken part in various campaigns in support of unorganised women labourers in Kozhikode. Penkoottu is known for their 2009 campaign for toilets on S.M. Street, which resulted in the e-toilet revolution in the State.