Annual General Body Meetings of DSS
The 16th Annual General Body meeting of DSS in Andhra Pradesh was conducted on 29th March 2022 at Ambedkar Bhavan, Vijayawada in a very grand way. Every year Annual General Body is conducted with a theme to inspire the society in general and dalit women in particular. This year the theme is “Gender Equality is the only Way for Social Progress” with a call to the public to Rally for Gender Equality. Dalit women and women collective leaders in large numbers from across the working area of DSS congregated at the venue, Ambedkar Bhavan well on time. Fervour and agility was writ large at the gathering, as the dalit women from districts are meeting each other and exchanging pleasantries. The meeting commenced on time. The meeting was presided over by Ms. Jhansi Geddam, National Convener of DSS. Other dignitaries that attended the meeting were:
· Sri. Vasireddy Padma, Chairperson, A.P. Women Commission, Chief Guest.
· Sri. T. Kasturibhai, Joint Director, I & P.R. Department.
· Dr. Farhad, K.L. University.
· Sri. James, K, Director, Samanvaye Foundation.
· Sri. Sri Devi, State Co-ordinator, Safai Karmachari Andolan.
Before the commencement of the meeting all dignitaries and women collective leaders paid rich tributes to Buddha, B.R. Ambedkar, Jagjivan Ram and Sankaran by garlanding their statues at Ambedkar Bhavan. After garlanding the statues and raising slogans, the meeting commenced.
Ms. Hemalatha, State Co-ordinator of A.P. presented a brief report of the activities conducted during the year. She stated that during the year about 100 instances of atrocities and other violation of
rights were addressed by DSS and the cases were followed up until judgement. Apart from regular activities, gender campaign for 16 days in response to the call of UN Women was conducted in a big way covering all villages and slums of our working area. Intensive trainings on special laws were conducted and the women collective leaders were equipped with knowledge of special laws. Further, a Round Table Conference was conducted with officials and victims and witnesses of about 30 cases in which speedy justice was delivered.
Ms. Jhansi Geddam, National Convener of DSS said that, it was a matter of pride that DSS could complete 16 years of continuous and committed work in monitoring and defending the rights of dalit/Adivasi women and girl children. It was an arduous task which could be done with the co-
operation of government officials, staff, people and media. She thanked everyone involved. All these years DSS has been facilitating dalit/Adivasi women to become more aware of their rights and entitlements and consolidating them as one woman to defend themselves. DSS has been on the path of unrelenting struggle to achieve gender equity. It is unfortunate that our country is ranked as 140th in gender equity scale and it is these unequal relations that trigger all forms of atrocities on women. Unless gender equity is achieved the nation can’t progress economically, politically or socially. There are many stringent laws to protect women, but it should be noted that transformation will not happen by simply arresting or convicting the persons. The root cause of patriarchal mindset has to be changed.
Ms. Vasireddy Padma, Chairperson of Women Commission in her address appreciated DSS for its arduous work all these years. She felt the method of DSS work is different to that of various other organisations in the field. DSS organises a Round Table Conference with officials and presents the cases it has taken up for solving them. Thus, DSS follows up every case until justice is accessed.
Many people and organisations conduct meetings when an incident occurs and leave the matter after that, whereas DSS pursues a case till its logical end. It is very difficult task to continually follow up a case but DSS does that. She admired this approach of follow up of cases till justice is accessed. DSS reports are very succinct and each word of their reports raise questions us. It is true that compared to the olden days there is some change in the society but there is a lot to do. Wit regard to untouchability and inequality there is some change in form but new forms of untouchability practices emerged. Likewise, it is very sad to note that violence on downtrodden women is taking place in various forms. It is more unfortunate to see girls are being exploited with a commercial perspective. There is need for thorough transformation not just from the government but in the society as well. Various laws meant for the protection of women should be implemented properly. Implementing the concerned laws strictly helps in eradicating oppression on scheduled castes and women. All of us should see that the laws are implemented strictly and the culprit is convicted.
Dr. Farhad, pointed out that it is said by all those women constitute half of the society but it should be remembered that it is the women that give birth to the remaining half and in that sense, it is
women that constitute the whole society. Gender equality should start in the families from the childhood itself. Parents only plan for bringing up boys in a bright way and settling them, while neglecting the future of their girl children. It is necessary to inculcate the culture of bringing up boys and girls in the same manner in equal way in every respect. It is unfortunate that while being children girls visualise many future dreams but they are all suppressed by the time they grow up. Gender inequality is steeped in the entire socialisation, schooling and in every aspect. She gave many illustrations and said that even in presenting toys in early child hood also one can notice the gender bias. Male child is given toys of cycle, car, guns etc while a girl child is given toys for cooking etc. One should be conscious of all aspects of gender bias and try to eradicate the same. It is necessary to introduce the concept of gender equity in school syllabus itself.
Mr. James Kommu, praised DSS for its consistent work for the emancipation of dalit/Adivasi women and girl children for the past 16 years. It is not easy for an organisation to work for such a long
period. He emphasized the role of mother in instilling gender equality while upbringing the children. Mothers should take care of the education of their children. He said society can’t progress without the progress of women.
Ms. Sri Devi, said that in her long observation of various organisations, she had not seen an
organisation like DSS which never compromised the rights of downtrodden. Many organisations take up cases with profit motive and make money out of the cases taken up by them. DSS always stood by the dalit/Adivasi women until they are able to access justice.
Ms. Kasturi also praised DSS for its uncompromising and sincere struggles for the rights of dalit/Adivasi women and girl children for the past 16 years. Telangana state co-ordinator
Ms. Bhagya Lakshmi and Vijayalakshmi also spoke on the occasion. Prakash Kote and Ramesh from Child Line inspired the audience with their progressive songs.
The 16th Annual State Conference of Telangana State was conducted in Ambedkar Resource Centre, Lakadika Pool on 31st March 2022. Ms. Jhansi Geddam presided over the meeting and other dignitaries that addressed the gathering are:
· Ambassador Vinod Kumar, IFS.
· Ms. Sudha,
· Dr. Pushpa Chakrapani, Dean of Social Sciences, DBRAOU.
· Sri. PSN Murthy, IDAS (Retd.), Chief Advisor, PBI.
· Ms. B. Manikyam, D.E., TS Transco.
· Ms. MN Kalpana, Protocol Officer, GAD (Retd.).
· Dr. V. Rama, Professor, NIT, Warangal.
· Ms. N. Anjani Kumari, Superintendent, Judicial Department.
· Ms. Usha Giri, Senior Psychologist.
· Ms. Krishnaveni, State Co-ordinator, Women Wing, DICCI.
Ms. Bhagya Lakshmi, State Co-ordinator presented a report of the activities done during the year. She briefed that about 100 cases of rights violation have been addressed and the victims were
assisted in accessing justice. Round Table Conferences have been held in which victims, witnesses and concerned officials have been arranged face to face interaction and these RTCs helped the government officials to identify the bottlenecks in implementation of SC, ST (PoA) Act and resolve them. The victims were sanctioned compensation in maximum number of cases. DSS conducted campaign on violence against women in response to the call of UN Women for 16 days activism. In Telangana State, DSS conducted fact finding into the lock-up death of Mariamma with a team of intellectuals and submitted representation to all concerned authorities for justice. The case was followed up. In view of the growing atrocities on Dalits and dalit women a few CSOs and individuals joined hands in forming a platform, namely, Social Democratic Forum, to address the issues. DSS played active role in forming this forum and in all further activities of the forum. National Convener of DSS is elected as one of the Conveners of this Social Democratic Forum.
Ms. Jhansi Geddam, in her presidential address expressed that it is a matter of pride that DSS could complete a long and arduous journey, consolidate itself as an organisation and celebrate its 16th annual conference. It was not an easy task to stick to the objectives and run a women organisation
for such a long time without deviation. Further, it is only DSS that has been working exclusively for the empowerment of dalit/Adivasi women in the two Telugu speaking states. There was never an occasion of compromise or dilution of the principles. DSS has now about 500 women leaders and is run totally by women without any male leadership. The long journey to reach this status was laborious and gruelling. It was extremely tiring and demanding great effort and determination. We could complete this odyssey with the support and encouragement from all sections of the society, including the government and media, for which we are highly beholden. One should note that maximum oppression and violation of personal liberty is faced by dalit/Adivasi women and girl children compared to other sections of the society. Apart from violence, dalit/Adivasi women are denied their share of economic and natural resources. Their representation in government jobs, social and political positions is negligible. The root cause of this situation is gender and caste inequality. All democratic forces, state institutions, media and everyone should come forward in eradicating the oppression on dalit/Adivasi women and girl children.
Ambassador Vinod Kumar, in his speech said that while being an ambassador, he went around
various countries of the world and wherever he had gone, he praised India, but never talked about the oppression faced by dalit/Adivasi women. Now he is feeling good that an organisation like DSS is addressing all problems faced by these women. He added that he is feeling proud to see the campaign of DSS on gender equality with the vision of, ‘gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’. He said that it is one thing to understand the atrocities committed on Dalits and dalit women and quite another thing to redress them. He was appreciative of transforming the dalit/Adivasi women and empowering them as articulate and assertive women.
Ms. Sudha, said that she had been attending the meetings of DSS since long and has been observing their work. She lauded DSS for their commitment and sincerity. Whenever and wherever an atrocity takes place on dalit/Adivasi women, DSS rushes there and assists the victims in accessing
justice. She recollected how Ms. Jhansi Geddam presented the situation of dalit/Adivasi women when she was in Netherlands. After Jhansi’s presentation the UN representative there queried whether the children are educated about dalit/Adivasi oppression and whether it was part of the syllabus, to which the answer was no. This means the problems of a sizable chunk of the population and the need to eradicate it is never part of our education. It may be noted that lessons about great visionaries like Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Jyoti Rao Phule and Ms. Savitri Bhai Phule who sacrificed their lives for the upliftment of the downtrodden was also included only recently. How can our children develop the concept of equality without learning about social reformers? Dalit/Adivasi women are denied their equitable share in the economic, natural and all resources. How can this be done? Didn’t the dali/Adivasi women participate and sacrifice in the freedom struggle? This discrimination and denial should end. This can happen only when all of us work for gender equality. She added that she had taken up the challenge of rectifying the gaps in the history and done some research on the social reform movements. She highlighted the contribution of Dr. B. R, Ambedkar.
Ms. B. Manikyam, recollected what Dr. Ambedkar said, that a society’s progress has to be measured on the basis of the advancement of the women in that society and called for taking forward the Constitution that Dr. Ambedkar gave us. She recalled how Dr. Ambedkar sought to protect the
rights of women by drafting Hindu Code bill and women’s right to property. Ambedkar dreamt of empowerment of dalit women. Compared to the past we could advance a little towards equality by crossing several obstacles. Gender inequality is everywhere in the world and this can be transformed only when the patriarchal mindset is transformed. The institution of family is strong in India but it is patriarchal and unequal. It is necessary for each woman to develop personally. There are a few who could develop but within the family they are subjugated. Women should be able to assert the rights conferred on them by the constitution. Women should strive to get their property rights.
Usha Giri, in her address cited Dr. B.R. Ambedkar who said that the advancement of women shall be
the measure of any society’s progress. She emphasized the importance of education for the progress of women. Education, Economy and Energy are synonymous with women. As on today women are being looked down upon by the society and that is why nobody is responding when a woman is being raped in broad day light or when violence is inflicted upon her. Women should develop good bodily strength and courage to resist any violence. Women bear the entire burden of the family and sacrifice her entire energy for the well-being of the family. Despite her sacrifice for the family, she is not getting due recognition and support. She appealed that we should identify the root cause of gender discrimination and strike at the root cause.
Ms. Kalpana, said that at every work place there will be discrimination and oppression Dalits and dalit woman. One has to be stubborn and carry on the work with self-respect and assertiveness.
She shared her experience as being successful Public Relations Officer with six Chief Ministers. She suggested every woman to be educated and said that age is not a bar for education. One can study at any age. She emphasized the need to bring up children without gender discrimination and to make boys do all house hold chores. Likewise, women should not hesitate in acquiring property right.
Ms. Krishnaveni felt that we are still being discriminated and oppressed by the upper castes and we
are losing our rights and equality status. She appreciated DSS for its continued and concerted struggles for the rights and entitlements of dalit/Adivasi women and girl children.
Ms. Rama asserted that unless gender equality is achieved there is no sustainable tomorrow. Since gender equity is so important for future sustainability, the UN gave call for gender equity and ending all forms of violence against women. It is the call of UN to celebrate International Women’s
Day in recognition of the need for gender equality and progress of women. It is unfortunate that we stand at 140th rank in gender equity. She called for achieving equality in four important aspects, namely, education, economic independence, health and political participation. UN has set sustainable goals to be achieved by 2030, but is it possible to reach the goals? She emphasized the need for the role of women in policy making so that more priority can be given for gender equity in all decisions.
Ms. Pushpa Chakrapani opined that the society can’t progress unless gender equity is achieved. It is unfortunate that gender discrimination is practiced even at the pre-natal stage. Actually we, the
women give birth to male or female child in similar manner but discrimination commences after birth. We do not bring up the all children in similar manner. She gave illustrations of discrimination in the daily chores, play, dress and in every other aspect. To drive away all these discriminatory practices it is necessary for us to be more aware and more conscious about gender concept.
Sri. PSN Murthy appealed to DSS to take strong decisions in the direction of gender equality.
Women should be trained to think that they are the leaders of their own lives and should be able to take decisions independently. When the woman takes a decision which is good for the family, the entire family will follow her decisions. He appealed women to be more conscious and lead the families. Then they should grow further and lead the community. He hoped that women will grow like this step by step and move forward in the path of equality in all aspects. He advised women to study Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and transform themselves into social activists to change the society. He said that it is unfortunate that we are still steeped in the ideology that a women should bear all torture by her husband. This patriarchal thinking should change.
Ms. Nari Anjani Kumari, Ms. Yasoda, Administrator of Sakhi Centre, Adilabad, Ms. Hemalatha, A.P.
State Coordinator of DSS, Dalit leader Sri. Koteswara Rao, Ms. Vinoda also expressed their views.
The General Body resolved as follows:
To eradicate all forms of violence on Dalit Adivasi women and girl children.
To work for safe and qualitative education of dalit Adivasi girl children.
To work for the social, economic and political empowerment of dalit Adivasi women.
To bring awareness among the youth to advance in all sectors.
To work in co-ordination with all like-minded organisations towards achieving the objectives.
To campaign on the constitution so that the rights and values of the constitution reach grassroots population.
To work for a brighter relationship between men and women.