Joginder Bains

International Women’s Day Celebration on 8th March 2015 at the Indian Community Centre was attended by 90 people from all walks of life, the majority of participants were Asian women. The event was organised by the Association of Indian Women, Derby Branch. The programme was divided into two sessions. The first session was a public meeting with formal speeches and with the second session being entertainment and a light evening meal.

The meeting was chaired by Ranbir Gahonia, president of Association of Indian Women. She formally opened the meeting by welcoming all the guests and the guest speakers, inviting them over to the stage. The follow up programme was conducted by Joginder Bains, General Secretary of Association of Indian women. In the opening remarks Joginder explained the history of International Women’s day. She explained that the proposal for an annual celebration of International Women Day was first tabled, at an International Working Women’s Conference attended by women from 17 countries, by Clara Zetkin in 1910. Clara Zetkin, a prominent Marxist Socialist and feminist, was extremely influential in the German Socialist Democratic Party. Joginder explained that the day is celebrated in different forms, some women celebrate it as day to enjoy while others like to analyse women’s achievements and shortfalls. While they like to celebrate the female achievements, they make a plan of action for what remains to be achieved. Joginder stated that Association of Indian Women falls in the second category.

Moz Greenshield

The first guest speaker was Moz Greeenshield from People’s Assembly. Moz explained the activities of the People’s Assembly and explained that since the recession the wealthiest 1000 people have increased their wealth by 15%, that comes to a total of £519 billion. This alone is half of the UK’s national debt. Moz stated that the banks, such as HSBC, assisted these wealthiest people to increase their wealth.
Moz explained that the big companies have been provided a legal tax haven. If the legal loopholes for tax avoidance and tax evasions were closed, the government can generate enough funds to pay all the debts meaning there would be no need for austerity measures to reduce deficits.

Moz explained how our hard earned employment rights are being removed one by one. People are forced to work on zero hour contracts, of which 50% are women. We are told that this gives women flexibility and is better for their family life. Instead it has an opposite effect. It increases female poverty because this does not give them job security and women can make no plans for family life because they have to be available at all times. Zero hour contracts deny women employment rights. Moz explained that women are earning 4% less than minimum wage. Moz explained that a research by the TUC has indicated that due to increased unemployment and reduced income, the treasury has lost £33 billion from income tax.

Moz explained that Government’s public service expenditure cuts are having major impact on people’s lives. Social Care budget alone has been reduced by 96%. Bedroom tax is breaking the families and communities. She explained Rolls Royce making 300 people redundant while receiving a subsidy from the Government. Moz condemned the attacks on Immigration by all of the main political parties when we all know that without immigration the British economy will come to its knees within a matter of days. She told the audience that the Britain First Thugs tried to disrupt the International Women’s celebration on 7th March in Derby Market Place and how bravely women challenged them.

Lastly Moz saluted all those women who worked and fought for better pay and working conditions. She gave particular reference to the 10 weeks strike in 1910 by chain makers for minimum wage and for better working conditions. She also gave reference to Alice Wheeldon, an anti-war campaigner from Derby who was imprisoned in 1917 under the false allegation with conspiracy to kill the then prime minister. Her granddaughters are fighting to have her name cleared.

Moz ended her speech by saying that we must not let the divisive forces divide us and she said together we will win.

Keith Venables from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

Keith explained what the TTIP is and how it will impact on working people’s work and life and what the likely impact it will have on the NHS. He stated that a negotiations, between the US and the EU, are currently undergoing in Brussels and if the negotiations are successful, it would bring the Health and Safety standards and employment rights down to the standards in the US . He stated that our forefathers and foremothers sacrificed their lives for current working conditions, health and safety standards and employment rights that we all enjoy. He pointed out that we already are experiencing many of our rights being removed one by one by the current Con-Dem coalition Government.

Keith Venables warned that there is a strong possibility that we may lose our much loved and cherished National Health Service. The NHS, that already is moving towards privatisation, will be sold in private hands whose primary aim is making profit. There also is a strong possibility of the US style of Health Service to be introduced in EU countries. Not only that NHS will go into Private Hand, the caring responsibility will fall upon women that we already are witnessing is the case owing to reduction in public expenditures. Once the NHS has been privatised, the decision can never be reversed because of the fear of companies suing the host Government.

Keith explained profit is the main aim of the US companies and any intervention by host Governments to interfere in their profits making activities will result in these companies suing the respective government. He gave an example in Australia where the Government’s introduction of white paper cigarette packaging reduced tobacco companies’ profit. The company has filed a case to sue the Australian Government. These cases, Keith explained, are not dealt with by court but by a panel of a few lawyers. This agreement would increase corporate power and make it more difficult for governments to regulate markets.

Keith Venables explained that that research has shown that TTIP will cause one million job losses in EU countries.

Keith explained many organisations, including the TUC, are campaigning against TTIP and he invited the audience to take an active part too. He explained his visit to Brussels where 500 people from all EU countries lobbied their MEPs. Keith invited the audience to join the day of action on 18th April in Derby.

Adrian Perry, Palestine Solidarity Committee.

Adrian Perry started his speech with an outline of a peaceful march to celebrate International Women’s Day in Palestine that was brutally attacked by Israeli military. He explained that some 3000 women marched towards the boundary between Israel and Palestine. As they approached the check point the marchers were welcomed with stun guns, water cannons and were barricaded in by the soldiers. 30 women were badly injured and hospitalised. This is just one example of the brutal Israeli regime.

Adrian explained about his visit to Palestine in January 2015. He said seeing and hearing of the experience of daily life of Palestine people is very different. He explained the illegal settlement by Israeli people and the military bases all over Palestine. Palestinians are unable to lead a normal life that we take for granted. He explained how the Israeli Military destroy Palestinian livelihood. They lack clean water and sanitary facilities. Adrian explained the impact of a 100 mile long wall between Palestine and Israel. He stated Palestinian workers have to have special passes to cross this wall. These passes are checked each morning and evening that takes six hours each day.

Adrian explained what we can do to help Palestinian people. He asked the audience to boycott Israeli goods, not to shop at Sainsbury because it trades in Israeli goods causing misery to Palestinian life. He explained the works of the Palestinian Solidarity Committee and the positive response from public in Derby when protesting in front of Sainsbury’s. Adrian stated that we need to work and negotiate with local Councils to help boycot Israeli goods. Many Local Councils already have taken a decision to do so. He encouraged the audience to ask their local MPs and Councillors about their views about the illegal Israeli settlement. Lastly Adrian invited the audience to join the Palestine Solidarity Committee.

Sue Argile, Derby Against Racism and Fascism

Sue gave a brief outline of racism in Britain. She gave particular emphasis to UKIP and why we need to work to defeat them. Sue stated that UKIP have been presenting itself as an anti-racist party while the reality is somewhat different. Sue said that we will have to be vigilant about the UKIP xenophobia policies and activities. Nigel Farage has proudly stated that Enoch Powell was his hero. This is the same Enoch Powell who talked about rivers of blood in British streets if Common Wealth Immigration continued to flow. In contrast Nigel Farage is anti-Eastern European Immigration and his views mirror those of Enoch Powell’s.

Sue stated that Nigel Farage is not only anti working class, anti- immigration, he is anti- women and, anti-gay and lesbian. He stated that women should breastfeed their babies in a corner not be seen by public. He further said that women cannot be paid an equal wage to men because they have a career break after child birth. Most of all Nigel Farage is anti – NHS. He wishes to introduce insurance policy based Health Service similar to the one in America where people are denied health care if they are unable to take an insurance policy. Poor people are sent to Gatos type Health Service. Nigel Farage believes in competition in Health Service and has stated that British NHS is not competitive and is out of date.
Sue pointed out that Nigel Farage’s main aim is to end immigration His views about immigration contribute to increased racism. Nigel Farage in an interview with Channel Four has gone as far as saying all anti- racist laws should be scraped and employers should be able to give preference to a British worker to one from Poland. Sue Argile warned UKIP that we, the working people, will not let them succeed in dividing us, we must defeat UKIP and united we will.

Ranbir Gahonia, for Association of Indian Women presented information by ‘power point’ highlighting women’s current position in India and in the UK. She pointed out that on the one hand women are making advances in every field crossing gender boundaries and on the other hand women are forced to live in poverty and are paid less than their male counterparts. They are not safe in our society at home or outdoor. They are victims of increasing physical and sexual violence. Female foeticide has become a norm in India and as result some three million women are missing. Ranbir pointed out that the female situation is not much better in Britain. Women are facing exactly the same problems in Britain with some exceptions. Ranbir made a strong point that women in India, the UK or anywhere else are not prepared to passively sit back and suffer. All over the world women are fighting back and not to let shame be a barrier to their fight.

Lastly, Joginder Bains,Gen Sec to Indian Workers Association (GB) briefly presented the content of the documentary – India’s daughter – that is based on the gang rape victim in Delhi in December 2012. She informed the audience that this documentary has been banned in India and the Indian Government is putting pressure on BBC not to televise it anywhere in the world. However, the BBC did telecaste it on the 4th of March and is available on the BBC iPlayer. The Indian Government believes that the documentary was made to undermine India’s integratory. Joginder asked the Indian Government what happens to Indian national integratory when whole world is aware of female foeticide, when India has three million girls are missing, when rape victims wait for 10’s of years for justice. The audience was shocked by the content of the documentary and called on the Indian Government to lift the ban and for the defence lawyer’s licence to be removed for life.

Poetry was read by Avtar Mander, Rita walia who sang song folk lore that were appreciated by the audience. Ranbir Gahonia read the poem, TODAY, WITH MY EYES, I SAW I. This poem was very fitting and concluded to the International Women Day Celebration very well.

The Association of Indian Women would like to thank all the guest speakers and participants. We would like to thank everyone for their positive feedback and for being the insperation to take our work forward.