Annual State Conferences of both the States were held in February 2021.Annual State Conference is an occasion for all dalit women, women collective leaders of both the states to gather at one place, greet each other, review the work done and plan for the year ahead.The state level meet provides an occasion for all the women to look at their collective strength and it helps in boosting their collective confidence. Over the years, the dalit women got used to
travel all the way from their villages to the venue of the conference with lot of enthusiasm and vigour.
Though, the dalit women and women collective leaders are continuously trained on various concepts and laws, state conference is yet another occasion to enlighten everyone on various subjects. With this perspective, a relevant theme is selected for each Annual conference and the gathering is educated on the theme with high level dignitaries/intellectuals as speakers. This year, the annual conferences of both the State of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh were held on the theme of “Dalit Women Marching Towards Progress”, thereby indicating the progress of dalit women on both social and economic fronts.
Added to the general importance of the annual conferences, this year is more significant as DSS completed a decade and half of its journey in empowering dalit women and is conducting its 15th Annual Conference. Fifteen years of continuous, unrelenting work towards the goal of empowering and liberating dalit women is not an easy task. DSS crossed many cross roads and is marching ahead with clear vision and commitment. The quality and quantity of work turned out during the past decade and half, the consolidation of dalit women, the leap in their level of awareness are no mean achievements. The fifteenth annual conference, is definitely a fitting event to recapitulate the entire journey in retrospect. As the special and unique occasion demands, DSS brought out a distinctive publication on the 15 years journey, titled “We are One Woman-15 Years Journey”. This publication, which was brought out as a souvenir, portrays abird’s eye view of the arduous and committed work of DSS, its major achievements during decade and half. Consolidated outputs of various activities, their impact, the exceptional quantity and quality of workand present situation are depicted in the souvenir. The souvenir will be a handy summary of DSS from inception till now.
In addition to this souvenir, a brief introduction of the Constitution of India in the form of a handy booklet in Telugu was brought out in commemoration of the decade and half journey of DSS.
As narrated above, every year annual conferences are held as carnivals of the state dalit women. It was always a big fete, a time for celebration and rejoicing along with learning. More so this year as it is 15th Annual Conference. But alas, due to the Covid situation, there was a gloom and all-round fear of spreading the virus. Further, there are restrictions on gatherings as per the government’s protocol. Added to this, the speakers, who are high dignitaries, were also a little hesitant to move among large gatherings. Keeping all this in mind, DSS restricted the attendance to a few women from each village and they were all instructed to wear masks, use sanitizer and travel safely and not in groups. The halls selected were also sanitized and care was taken for air circulation. Seating was arranged maintaining as much distance as possible and sanitizers were provided at the halls. Everyone wore masks. The dignitaries were explained about the precautions taken and requested to attend in time and address the gathering. Thus, the conferences were held in both the states with all care and precautions and no unfortunate event took place. Spread of virus was not reported by anyone so far and nothing untoward happened either to the dignitaries or to the participants.
Telangana State Conference
The 15th State annual conference of DSS for the state of Telangana was held at Ravindra Bharathi, Hyderabad on 17.2.2021. Jhansi Geddam, National Convener of DSS presided over the meeting and the other dignitaries on the dais were Padmasri Narra Ravi Kumar, National President of the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sri Dilip Reddy, Executive editor of Sakshi, Sri Sudharani, Director of DBRAOU, Sri PSN Murthy, IDAS, (VR), Sri Kalpana, Officer of CMO, Rajendra Kumar, Retd Bank Employ, Sri Vanajakshi, Entrepreneur, Dr Siddoji Rao, Convener of IAS,IPS officers forum/ Helpdesk and Sri Bhagya Lakshmi, Telangana State Coordinator.
Jhansi Geddam in her presidential remarks elaborated on the initiatives taken up and challenges faced by the organisation over the past 15 years. She briefly outlined the developments of the decade and half’s journey. When DSS commenced its work in 2006 there were hardly 10 women, but now DSS has 10,000 odd cadre who have been working constantly towards ending violence against women at home and outside, besides improving the lives of Dalit and Adivasi children. She said that DSS plans to shape atleast 1,000dalit women as able leaders in various sectors.
Dilip Reddy, senior journalist and Executive Editor of Sakshi daily, outlined how the market
forces are being helped by Governments. He opined that Governments are strengthening the market forces, thereby weakening democracy. Dalit men and women should become conscious of their rights and demand for their share in the resources and development. He shared his life and childhood experiences and narrated that he always questioned the ill treatment and unequal treatment meted out to Dalits by his family during childhood.
Narra Ravi Kumar, appreciated the activities of DSS for the past 15 years and welcomed the initiatives of the organisation in economically empowering the dalit women.He suggested that
DSS should include economic empowerment of dalit women in its core agenda. He felt that Dalits should shed all traditional and superstitions and march ahead as entrepreneurs. He emphasised that Dalits should embrace knowledge, technology and news ways of living. He said that knowledge and transformation are the key words and the only way forward. The 15th Annual Report of DSS was released by Sri. Narra Ravikumar.
PSN Murthy, spoke about Ambedkar vision of women and appealed to the gathering to study the works of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar seriously and educate the children on the ideology of Dr.B.R. Ambedkar. He reminded the gathering that Dr. B.R. Ambedkar toiled for the emancipation of women not only through movements but also by drafting suitable laws. He appreciated the untiring work of DSS for the past 15 years in empowering dalit women and girl children.
The meeting convened to mark 15 years of the organisation also resolved to focus more on personality development aspects apart from education, and to take up a campaign to address the issues resulting from traps in the name of love.
15thAnnual State Conference was held on 24th February 2021 at Ambedkar Bhavan, Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh.
The theme of the General Body was: “Dalit Women Marching towards Progress”.Eminent personalities were invited to elaborate on the selected theme and inspire the gathering. The following dignitaries attended the conference and enlightened the dalit women gathering.
DSS Women Collective leaders and the team members along with the Convener of DSS and dignitaries Sri Usha Kumari IAS, Dr Lavanya and others first garlanded Ambedkar statue, Buddha Statue, Babu Jag Jeevan Ram Statue and SR Sankaran statue, in the compound of Ambedkar Bhavan. Then the dignitaries and participants proceeded to the Meeting hall. Inside the meeting hall the photos of Dr BR Ambedkar and Savitribai Phule were garlanded by Dr Lavanya and State Women Collective Leader Sri Mary Nirmala before they occupied their respective seats on the dais.
The chief guest of this conference is Sri Kaki Sunitha, IAS, Principal Secretary to Govt of AP,Social Welfare Department, while the other dignitaries were: Sri Usha Kumari, IAS,Retd, Govt of AP, Sri L. Jayashree, Law Professor, (Retd)Acharya Nagarjuna University, Dr Lavanya from Ayush Hospital, Dr N Siddoji Rao, Convenor, SC, ST IAS/IPS Officers Forum, Sri Kiran Kumar, General Secretary, APTRANSCO, Sri Prasad, Auditor General of Municipal Corporation, Sri Koteswara Rao, Senior Journalist, and special invitees of the meeting were Sri Syam Sundar, Resident Editor, Hans India and Sri Viswanathan Reddy, State Bureau, Sakshi.
Sri Jhansi Geddam, National Convener of Dalit Sthree Sakthipresided over the meeting.Jhansi Geddam, in her inaugural speech said that Dalit Sthree Sakthi was striving for the last 15 years for the welfare and uplift of Dalit Women. She said that it has achieved successes, faced challenges and overcome troubles during one and a half decade. DSS has trained 10,000 women who can tackle issues of violence and oppression both at home and outside. She outlined the growth of DSS during the past 15 years and its accomplishments.
Sri K. Sunitha, Principal Secretary of Social Welfare Department addressing the 15th annual conference of Dalit Sthree Sakthi called upon the dalit women to concentrate on the education of their children keeping in view their bright future. Sunitha said that it was highly regrettable that only 20% of women from scheduled castes familiesare getting the benefit under the Amma Vodi scheme, which is given only to the mothers of school going children. She asked them to take initiative to get benefit of all the government schemes. Likewise, the dalit women are lagging in getting scholarships from the government for the future studies of their children.
Sunitha Complemented the Dalit Sthree Sakthi’s tremendous work and its National Convener Geddam Jhansi for their relentless work for the upliftment of Dalit Women. She released the souvenir“We are one woman – 15 years of Journey”.
Sri Usha Kumari, IAS narrated the difficulties faced by committed officers who are working hard for the upliftment of Dalits and how they are being harassed. However, despite hardships and harassments the committed officers are still working to achieve goals. She released the 15th Annual Report of DSS.
Dr Lavanya, Viswanath Reddy from Sakshi, Syam Sundar from Hans India, Prof Jayashree, Kiran Kumar, Rajesh, Prasad, Seshu and others also addressed the gathering motivating the dalit women gathering. Coordinators from the two Telugu states, Dalit women leaders of various districts also participated and spoke their experiences, hurdles and achievements. Another publication of DSS, titled “Brief Introduction of the Constitution” in the conference.AP state Coordinator Hemalatha proposed vote of thanks.