CPI(M) Kerala is observing 1st to 8th July 2021 as a week dedicated to the cause of the women organising many programmes for the empowerment of women and against various kinds of discrimination, insults, assaults against them. Though dowry system is prohibited, it continues unabated in various forms and married women are mentally and physically assaulted on this issue by husband and in-laws, even resulting in death or suicide. The LDF government is taking various measures to empower women and ensure equal status to them in all spheres. Despite this, wages for men and women are unequal in many areas, with lower wages for women. The struggle continues and sustained efforts will be required to ensure equal status for men and women. Many initiatives are being planned by the government including required modification in the school curriculum, labour rules, continued propaganda etc.

This inequality and discrimination have been continuing for thousands of years in various forms. Struggles were also going against them. In this connection, I remember a few instances in the case of government employees, even in 20th century. Almost all the big telephone exchanges were feminised, meaning that only women Telephone Operators were employed there. Women T.O.s were granted one extra increment for not marrying. Of course, both these conditions could be changed through the struggles by the workers. In the central govt employees’ strike in 1960 and 1968 and proposed P & T strike of 1949, hundreds of lady telephone operators were arrested, jailed in most of the major cities and towns including Calicut, Trichur, Ernakula etc. in Kerala and some of them terminated/ dismissed from service. Almost the same case was with the Air-hostesses and in certain places for Nurses. Airhostesses had to go to court to get the right to marry, if I remember correct. Nurses had to struggle to get their half skirt uniforms changed. (Recruitment of men telephone operators, Stewards and Nurses gradually changed the situation).

In many other professions, similar discrimination existed and sometimes continues. The struggle for equal status is not an easy one. The struggle has to be continued at home, public spaces, work places, worshipping places etc. etc. Removing the discrimination existing for centuries is not easy. But it is necessary for the future of the human existence. The fight continues.

22Biplab Das, Chandrasekharn Puthiyaveettil and 20 others1 CommentLikeCommentShare