Accomplishments of National Union of Working Women

National Union of Working Women has organised poor women to protest against the abysmal living conditions of their slums and 70% of their demands were met.

On the protest these women carried against the unfair hike in the prices of petrol/diesel which affected the livelihoods of women workers drastically the prices were brought down by the government.

Over 5,000 women have marched and submitted a petition to the President of India lobbying for 33% reservations of seats for women in the Indian Parliament.

Through the efforts of unionisation of women National Union of Working Women has implemented wage revisions for beedi rollers, agarbathi rollers and lace artisans. For instance the beedi rollers who were paid just Rs.200/-per 1000 beedies rolled (present rate), today get about Rs.24/- per 1000 beedies, the lace artisans paid about Rs.2/- per reel (1500 meters) of lace work, today earn Rs.50/- to Rs.300/- per reel. Agarbathi workers getting Rs.1.50/- per 1000 sticks rolled today get Rs.40/- per 1000 sticks.

The union has been successful in providing alternate source of livelihood. The agricultural workers in many rural centres were given strength to confront and fight for higher wages. Their wages increased from Rs.4/- to Rs.300/- per working day.

Women have also been able to cut across caste/class barriers and collectively fought for access to burial grounds. Through their collective action and a march sought the intervention of district authorities and won their right to have access to crematorium.

The fisherwomen of Adiramapattinam were able to accomplish the task of breaking the monopoly of the auctioneer and reap better profits. Their collective strength also solved their long standing problems due to silting of canal that blocked their access to sea and solved their transport problems.

The landless labourers of the most backward districts of Bidar in Karnataka have organised themselves under an institutional framework in order to address their economic problems.

These women have united in solidarity and have in a short period demonstrated appreciable growth in enterprise and also in their living conditions.

NUWW's efforts elevated the status of women weavers of Kanchipuram on par with the male weavers. Today these women get all benefits equivalent to their male counterparts.

NUWW has also helped in reducing child mortgage and facilitated children to go to school.

Efforts of NUWW have also reduced the incidence of child mortgage and bondage. Also its efforts enable children in integrating themselves with the formal education systems.

Through NUWW's efforts 'The Devadasis' of Bellary, a sexually exploited group of women / adolescent girls, were sensitised on their right to break away from the exploitative tradition and pursue gainful employment. With an alternate means of survival these women have successfully over thrown the cultural barriers and are able to lead a life of dignity.

NUWW has helped to reduce child labour in all its areas of operation. Nearly 16,000 children were released from bondage and encouraged to pursue formal schooling.

Over 20,000 women proved their leadership by demonstrating and participating in thousands in the anti-liquor agitation in the West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. The agitation prompted the government to abolish the sale of 'arrack' in the state and enforce prohibition.

The constant protest/street demonstrations by Forum's women's groups in the slums of Chennai on the ineffective Public distribution System has helped them achieve their demand for appointment of 5000 women in ration shops to correct the irregularities.

NUWW has initiated much needed social security schemes for the unorganised workforce benefiting about 2,80,000 women. Micro insurance coverage gives women workers protection against ill health, accidents, death etc.

The small fishermen from Adiramapatinam took up cudgels against the big trawler operators for their fishing rights. The appeal was taken to the highest court in India, the Supreme Court, which passed an order stating that big trawlers would have fishing rights for three days a week and the small fishermen for four days a week.

Also read:
Unionisation and mobilisation
Access to Legal and Welfare Measures
Breaking the Legacy of Invisibility
Overcoming physical weakness