Swchhakar Mahila Abhiyan – Press Release
Swchhakar Mahila Abhiyan
Lucknow 14th Feb 2015
Location:- Ganga Prasad Memorial Hall, Ameenabad, Lucknow
Today, around 500 women, engaged in manual scavenging, gathered at a conference organized by SDF in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. These women from different parts of the state gathered to voice their concerns and demands to a better and respectful livelihood and employment.
Present today, to listen to the voices of these women were National Commission Member, Ms. Hemlata Kheria and Vice President, All India Progressive Women’s Association, Ms. Tahira Hassan along with Social Development Foundation Founder Mr. Vidya Bhushan Rawat.
The women expressed their helplessness, family issues, social obligations, and concerns for employment and poverty which all contribute towards their compulsion of continuing in manual scavenging. They voiced their dissatisfaction and need to move out from their current engagement.
Ms. Hemlata mentioned that the need for internal community reforms and reforms in the thought process of the women would be the best solution combined with assistance from government and law enforcing agencies. She expressed that she herself being a Dalit, also faced discrimination at various levels. She said that she can imagine that how deep and troubled would be the plight of women involved in manual scavenging. She also requested the women to get into alternative forms of employment mainly towards self-employment.
Ms. Tahira Hassan said she was deeply shocked and felt ashamed as an Indian today when she heard the voices of the women. She appealed the women to join hands with other agricultural labourers, urban workers, women groups and fight the system collectively.
Mr. Rawat highlighted the law and its failure towards being enforced. The reforms and changes in the law structure have repeatedly failed to stop manual scavenging and give a dignified rehabilitation to the people and families involved.
The women felt a ray of hope with the assurances of these dignitaries and requested them to appeal this issue to the larger audience pan India and globe. The women and their families repeatedly requested a dignified livelihood and respectful life. The compensation of Rs.40,000 offered for rehabilitation is too meagre to start an alternative income source.
Moreover, the state government statistics show an understatement while thousands still involved in manual scavenging. Among the prominent activists who spoke included Deepmala, Dhiraj, Shobhana, Shabana and many others including Suresh Yadav from Mau. The conference had intermittent songs to entertain.
The women attended were largely from Lucknow, Varanasi, Kanpur, Sitapur, Hardoi, Jaunpur, Gazipur, Deoria, Lakhimpur Kheri, Chitrakoot, Mau, etc. At the end of the day, the participants went back determined to work for a new society where this shamelessness will no more exist.