Mahila Samakhya dharna held in Lucknow to nudge govt into action
Members of the Mahila Samakhya Workers' Union in Lucknow staged a protest against the government's lack of action in payment of honoraria and reinstatement of jobs since the body was suspended in June 2020. The protest includes a hunger strike and demands payment of pending honorariums and job reinstatement. Over 800 women associated with the organization are awaiting action by the government.
Members of the Mahila Samakhya Workers’ Union staged a protest against the lack of action in payment of honoraria and reinstatement of jobs by government administrative bodies since the body was suspended in June of 2020.
A peaceful protest and hunger strike has been underway at the Eco Garden, in Lucknow, since August 13, and a Maha Dharna was held on Monday.
In 2020, the state government had told Mahila Samakhya that the organisation would be dissolved and the duties merged with the One Stop Centre. However, this step was never taken, and close to 800 women who were associated with this body have been awaiting action by the government.
According to a press statement released by the Mahila Samakhya, “The demands include payment of honorariums pending in the period since their duties were abruptly terminated, and a reinstatement of their job roles and perks in some pre-existing administrative body.”
The Mahila Samakhya, a body responsible for running programmes and campaigns in every district for the education and empowerment of women, was formerly a central government initiative, which was taken over by the state government in its original form in 2017.
In this transfer, the Mahila Samakhya went from being an agency of the ministry of human resource development, to coming under the aegis of the UP Mahila Kalyan. The Mahila Samakhya even ran a clutch of successful operations, including the Nari Aadaalat, which was a body that helped women with vocational education and to fight cases of domestic violence or gender abuse in their regions.
“Over 200 women have been peacefully protesting here since August 13,” said Kahkashan Perween, state resource person, Mahila Samakhya. “Some of them are on a hunger strike and have been on a limited diet of fruits and Glucon-D. They have not been having any meals,” she said. Appeals have been made to the deputy chief ministers as well, to no avail. “For three years, the workers have not been paid. Technically, they have not been let go either - the duties have been suspended with no future solution in sight,” she said.
Madhu Garg, joint secretary, AIDWA (All India Democratic Women’s Association), Sandeep Pandey, social activist and Magsaysay awardee of 2002, and Kamal Agarwal, president of State Employees’ Union, were also in attendance at the Maha Dharna.
The press statement from Mahila Samakhya also mentions that several women who worked as government employees of the Mahila Samakhya Yojana were suffering due to the lack of an income - unable to pay their children’s school fees, afford medical treatments, with some even facing starvation.
It read that most women in this group are in the 45-50 years age group, some are unmarried women, some widowed, and some from low-income backgrounds, who are finding it difficult to find employment elsewhere.