Published: 09th April 2020
#WomComMatters: Meet the woman who's trying to get the Telangana State Women's Commission up and running
Spurthi Kolipaka from Hyderabad and her team is campaigning for the Telangana State Women's Commission to get a chairperson and start to take up the responsibilities that they have been allotted
Did you know that the Women's Commission is one body that is directly responsible for all laws pertaining to women? They also have the annual responsibility to monitor the execution and put out an annual report where they offer suggestions regarding the laws, state what's working what's not and the report is then discussed in the assembly. Even if one of the suggestions offered is not taken seriously by the government, they have to justify it. So clearly, the women’s commission is a powerful body. But the irony of it all is that not only is the Telangana State Women's Commission not functional, and it has been months since a new chairperson was appointed since Tripurana Venkataratnam, nor is the website working. "Senior women leaders have fought for this and now, we are just letting all their efforts go to waste," says Spurthi Kolipaka, a youngster who has been at the forefront of the campaign #WomComMatters.
When it all began
Started last year in December 2019, the team behind #WomComMatters also had a Women's Day gathering planned on March 8 at KBR Park, which they had to cancel due to the Coronavirus scare, but their momentum, especially online, is still going strong. Explaining more about the body itself, Spurthi, who works as a water, sanitation and hygiene consultant for Telangana, says, "The commission was instituted to not just facilitate grievance redressal, but when bodies like the police or court fail women, they can approach the commission. They even have the authority to advise on policy matters that affect women, recommend remedial legislative measures and so much more," she says, exasperated.
Spurthi Kolipaka | (Pic: Spurthi Kolipaka)
While the petition on change.org is already up, the plan of action ahead is to bring this to the notice of Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao. "I am an ordinary citizen just trying to raise questions. Why should we be scared of asking questions to the government that we voted for?" says the social worker who is also a menstrual literacy advocate and has worked extensively in this realm. Talking about the defunct website, she says, "Hyderabad is supposedly the IT hub and we don't even have a website for the women's commission. There is no provision for women to file a complaint anonymously. Are we telling our women that the government can't spend Rs 20,000 for a static website for women?" she questions.
What happens next
"Youngsters are free-spirited enough to raise questions without the burden of losing their jobs, so we want to spread awareness among students. On the agenda is also writing letters to dignitaries, seeking an appointment with the governor and more," says Spurthi. They are working to build a website for the campaign which will feature all the information regarding women's safety. Not just this, information about other organisations working in this field, ways to avail pro bono legal services and more will also be available.
Their poster | (Pic: Spurthi Kolipaka)
To drive home the importance of the commission, Spurthi refers to the Nirbhaya Fund, a Rs10 billion corpus announced by the Government of India. She states that only a small percentage of it has been received and spent on Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) which is the pan-India emergency number, 112. "But has the government taken the effort to spread awareness about the number?" she questions. Referring to the Disha rape case that shook the country she says, "Just imagine, Disha called her sister instead of the helpline number 112 because she did not know about it or did not trust it enough. Who's job was it to ensure those funds were put to good use? The Women's Commission," she answers and rests her case.