Women Forest Rights Action Committee

19 March 2011
Announcement of formation of
"Women Forest Rights Action Committee"

Action Committee on women Forest Rights has been formed in Dumka, Jharkhand after a two days vibrant consultation on women and FRA in Dumka, Jharkhand involving women leaders of 7 states. This initiative has come on the wake of Women’s day celebration going on in entire month in various areas. These states are Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh , Uttarakhand and Arunachal . The women leaders participated from various organization such as, Adivasi Mahila Mahasangh, Chattisgarh, Kaimur Mahila mazdoor kisan sangarsh Samiti, Sonbhadra, UP, Tharu adivasi mahila kisan manch, Lakhimpur khiri, UP, Kaimur Mukti Morcha, Bihar, Adivas Kalyan Parishad, Dumka, Jharkhand, Ekta Parishad, Deoghar, Jharkhand, Torang Trust { women in network}( WIN), Ranchi, Van Gram Bhoo Adhikar Manch, Uttarakhand, and National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers, Kaimur, Uttarakhand, UP and Bihar, Jharkhand State Commission for Women. There were around 100 participant in two days consultation. The women leaders from these states were strongly feeling that on the issue of forest rights a strong women action committee should be formed in order to accelerate the process of implementation of FRA particularly on women’s control and management over community forest rights and MFP. The leaders from all these states equated the new legislation FRA as legislation of recognizing the women rights on community forest resource as well the individual forest rights. Hence it was felt that it is very important, that women should come in the forefront and take the lead in implementing the community rights across the country. The leaders discussed in detail why the State is not interested in implementing this Act and what action were needed to ensure the rights of women and the forest people on the forest. The role of Forest Department was also analyzed critically and there was a strong voice from the consultation that the FD should be replaced by the Community forest governance led by women across the 7.5 million hectare forest land.
The women community leaders strongly voiced that “forest” means “women”, it is primarily the women only who are more close to nature and they are the primary producers and protectors of the forest. In the forest areas it is women only who spend 90% of time in forest in collection of NTFP and fuel wood. It is for the first time that Forest Rights Act 2006 has recognized women role in forest after independence and granted equal ownership rights of women in the community and the individual forest rights. So women leaders took a unanimous decision that women will start action on filing the community claims which is the fundamental to women forest rights and it is only women who can fight and take the control over these community rights with their collective strength. The action committee also took decision that it will initiate a process of formation of “women producers cooperative” on NTFP, this experiment will start from Jharkhand.

The Action Committee on women forest rights is in a preliminary form that will be widened by organizing yet another national level meeting very soon by inviting various women leaders from various people’s organization. In this national level meeting various women community leaders across the country will participate to make this action committee a very strong organ to file the claim on the community forest rights and take the initiative of forming women cooperatives on NTFP.
Various important decisions have been taken in this consultation that will be taken as campaign across the country in coming days. Some of the important decisions were making women aware of the FRA provisions, filing of community claims collectively by women in various places where people’s organization is strong. Forming women cooperatives to manage and control the minor forest produce and oust the Forest Department from forest.
This consultation was organized in the memory of Bharati Roy chowdhury, woman activist who hailed from UP and struggled hard for inclusion of women rights in the FRA during its formation. She passed away on January 18, 2011 after a long suffering from kidney failure.
It is to be remembered that Dumka is a land of militant resistance since 18th centaury. In 1766-77 Paharia revolt and in 1854-55 Santhal revolt took place against the imperial policies of the Britishers to protect their traditional rights over land forest and territory. The bloodbath of adivasi of Jharkhand and Dumka resulted into saving their land and forest. Two tribal women Phulo and Jhano were killed by Britishers. These two women were leader of santhal revolt. So women have taken oath to fight for their rights over forest.

The consultation was inaugurated by ex CM, Jharkhand, Babulal Marandi and MP, Kodarma. Main speakers were Jarjum Ete, Ex Chairperson Arunanchal Women Commission and member fo Indegenous Tribe Forum, and Ashok Chowdhury, Founder, National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers. The consultation was convened by Vasavi Kiro, Munni Hasda, Roma and Mamta Kujur.

The important leaders who took the resolution were, Munni Hasda, Berna Hembrom, Prashanti, Mamta Kujur, Hulsi devi, Rajkumari, Bandho devi, Shanta Bhatacharjee, Sarla, Beena Kujur, Jarjum Ete, Vasavi Kiro, Roma, Ganga Arya, Shardha devi.

Note: We will be sending the main outcomes of this consultation soon also we invite your suggestion.

NFFPFW (Kaimur) / Human Rights Law Centre
Purab Mohal, Near Sarita Printing Press, Munsifi Chauraha
District Sonbhadra 231216
Uttar Pradesh
Tel : 91-9415233583, 05444-222473
Email : romasnb@gmail.com