The ‘All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers’ (AIFAWH) came into being on 6th January 1991 in its first national conference in Udaipur in Rajasthan.
The past twenty five years have been years of struggle and sacrifices for the AIFAWH and all its affiliates in different states, which played a pioneering role in mobilising lakhs of anganwadi employees in both united and independent struggles to improve the conditions of anganwadi employees and prevent ICDS from being handed over to private interests.
In that process, AIFAWH have grown as one of the most militant trade union organisations in the country, having more than five lakh members in twenty six states. Our reach was proved to be nearly double that with nine lakh anganwadi employees participating in the strike call given by AIFAWH. With initiatives of policy interventions for strengthening the ICDS we could earn the reputation as a responsible trade union.
AIFAWH is entering its Silver jubilee year on 6 January 2015. AIFAWH working Committee decided to organise year long programmes throughout the country starting from that day.
A meeting was organised to launch the silver jubilee celebrations at BTR Bhawan New Delhi on the occasion. AIFAWH working committee members and state leaders from nearby states attended the meeting. It was decided to hoist the AIFAWH flag throughout the country in every sector.
AIFAWH flag was hoisted by Neelima Maitra, President of AIFAWH, followed by a song on the red flag by the AIFAWH activists from Himachal Pradesh.
Tapan Sen, General Secretary CITU inaugurating the function said that CITU is feeling proud of its federation which had raised its activists to the class consciousness of taking up the issues of the people and the society along with own demands. While launching the most militant struggles and achieving many benefits, AIFAWH ahd also undertaken the task of organising other sections such as ASHAs, Mid Day Meal Workers etc, he said. The scheme worker’s movement is the initiative of AIFAWH, he said. We have to continue the joint campaign along with other class and mass organisations to Save ICDS, he said.
The meeting was chaired by Neelima Maitra, founder General Secretary who described the early years and formation of AIFAWH. She recalled the initiative of Nirupama Chatterjee, who was the Minister for Social Welfare in the first Left Front Government in West Bengal who along with her approached, Vimal Ranadive and BTR in organising the anganwadi workers and helpers. She also recalled having the first convention in 1989 in Delhi and the first conference 24 years ago in Udaipur.
K Hemalata,Vice President CITU and the General Secretary from 1998- 2012 narrated AIFAWHs experience through the years. How AIFAWH has developed cadres and intensified the struggles with a correct perspective she explained. Narrating the experience of organising other sections, taking up joint struggles she said that the potential of these section of the workers must be duly utilized by the democratic movement she emphasized.
Hannan Mollah, General Secretary AIKS while congratulating AIFAWH emphsised the need of exposing the hypocrisy of the government and the Indian Society giving women ‘adoration’ in place the salary for her work.He assured to take forward the joint struggles to save ICDS.Suneet Chopra, Joint Secretary AIAWU said that the role of anganwadi workers and helpers in fighting the other forms of oppression such as caste oppression. He assured that the agricultural workers will stand by the AIFAWH at all levels in their fight.Jagmati Sangwan, General Secretary AIDWA said that like most of the women in the villages she always felt at home in the anganwadi centres which give a feeling of their rights fulfilled. She said that it is very important for the AIFAWH to take up the struggles against women’s oppression along with AIDWA. Vikram Singh, Joint Secretary SFI said that the students get inspiration from the militancy of the struggles by AIFAWH. By bringing out to the streets so many women making them aware of their rights, AIFAWH made advancement in the fight against the patriarchy.
A photo album on the 25 years of AIFAWH was released by, A K Padmanabhan, President CITU by handing over to AIFAWH’s founder Treasurer Nina Rao. He reminded the sacrifices of hundreds of activists in taking AIFAWH to this height. He congratulated AIFAWH on its achievements and mentioned some of the struggles such as the Mahapadav, which was for the first time a mobilisation of such large number of women workers by a single organisation in Delhi.
A R Sindhu, General Secretary AIFAWH said the silver jubilee is an occasion to assess the achievements and shortcomings and take the struggles forward. As per the call of the 7th conference of AIFAWH to consolidate the organisation, and the call of 14th conference of CITU to ‘reach the unreached’ AIFAWH had decided to develop up to 25 new cadres in each district where the organisation exists. It will be minimum 2500 new cadres all over the country. AIFAWH had also decided to bring out 25 kinds of leaflets on different issues to reach the unreached anganwadi workers and helpers.
With the increased attacks and challenges on the occasion of the silver jubilee AIFAWH is gearing up for more vigorous struggles both independent and joint, for the rights of the workers, for the rights of the people against all kinds of injustice.