On August 14, 2018, 12 women from six NGOs in and around Chennai (Centre for Women’s Development and Research; Forum for Women’s Rights and Development; Penn Thozhilalar Sangam; Positive Women’s Network; Roshni; Working Women’s Forum) joined us for a Namathu Nagaram Namathu Urimai consultation on civic rights–that is, what we can expect to enjoy as a matter of right in any community where we reside. The idea was to share our concerns with a view to arriving at a short list, which in turn would serve as a charter of demands for candidates in the upcoming local elections.
This is what we came up with.
பெண்கள் கூட்டமைப்பு (PENNGAL KOOTTAMAIPPU)
August 14, 2018
Our cities and towns are unliveable. Together, we identify the following problems as most urgent:
- Our cities are filthy with uncollected garbage; unsegregated waste; poor disposal practices; solid waste disposal in sewage; unsafe disposal of plastic and medical waste; congested pavements with vendor and consumer waste; contaminated and worm-infested water supply; collapsed water and sewage lines; unsecured electrical junctions and cables; dirty, unsanitary and unused public toilets, and open defecation; and a lack of municipal oversight.
- Our cities are unsafe, and women are at risk at home, in public spaces and at work.
- Our cities are at risk because of substance abuse which results from the presence everywhere of TASMAC outlets and is a cause of domestic and sexual violence and insecure streets.
- Government services and grievance redressal are inaccessible, whether we try to collect the widows’ pension, avail primary health care and we are not made aware of e-services.
- Women are under-represented and lack voice, so that decisions about policy and services are made without taking our needs and experiences into account.
From those who seek our vote, we demand:
- A Clean City
- Provide dustbins on every street to facilitate segregation of bio and other waste;
- Ensure regular and timely garbage collection;
- Distribute usable and potable water equally and fairly;
- Remove illegal street encroachments;
- Assure sanitary street food stalls;
- Improve and maintain drainage and sewage systems;
- Maintain clean and functional public toilets;
- Inspect sanitation systems and services on a regular schedule.
- A Safe City
- Resolve and commit to protecting girl children in local government bodies, from the municipal corporation to the zilla parishad to the gram sabha;
- Maintain efficient and effective women and children’s helplines;
- Set up and ensure proper functioning of the Local Complaints Committees;
- Position and regularly review surveillance cameras in sensitive and secluded areas;
- Appoint more women administrators and police officers;
- Sensitise parents, media and government workers to gender issues;
- Commit to introducing sex education and self-defence training in schools and the promotion of girls’ and women’s sports opportunities.
- A City Secure from Alcohol Abuse and its Effects
- Relocate TASMAC outlets away from residential areas, school and college neighbourhoods and public transportation hubs;
- Regulate TASMAC hours and insist on identity card checking to prevent underage drinking;
- Install CCTVs and police patrol vigilance around TASMAC outlets in the evening;
- Establish and fund deaddiction centres and helplines and family support services.
- Accessible and Accountable Local Government Officials and Services
- Assure smooth benefits delivery;
- Streamline grievance redressal systems;
- Create awareness about e-services.
- An Equal Voice for Women in Government and Decision-making
- Appoint women officials
- Nominate 50% women candidates
- Take seriously elected women officials and not as proxies
- Vest decision-making power in women
- Respect women’s freedom of speech and listen to their perspectives.
(The raw version of this draft was endorsed by all participants, and a Tamil version will be added shortly.)
A one-page image for sharing: