Conference for people's power and women's liberation

Indian socialist and feminist, Kavita Krishnan will be one of the international guests from the Asia-Pacific region at the 10th national conference of the Socialist Alliance, to be held in Sydney over the long weekend of June 7-9.

This gathering will take place at a time of extreme inequality, intensified conflict and ecological crisis on a global scale. Even in Australia, one of the “richest suburbs” in the world, the political temperature is rising with the 100,000-strong March in March signalling a broad resistance to the attacks from the Tony Abbott government.

The conference will discuss strategies and tactics to advance people's power in this country and around the world.

The rapid industrialisation across parts of Asia since the 1980s has created the biggest contingents of the working class since the European industrial revolutions. But the forced imposition by the corporate rich of a new global division of labour poses new political openings and challenges for all classes.

Opening the conference on June 7 will be a public one-day seminar called “People's Power in the 'Asian Century'”, featuring Indian socialist and feminist Kavita Krishnan (pictured), plus international guests from the Asia-Pacific region, including Farooq Tariq from the Awami Workers Party (AWP) in Pakistan, Sonny Melencio from the Party of the Labouring Masses in the Philippines (PLM), Arul from the Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) and Manarishi Dhital from the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (UCPN-M).

Other public events will be held during the weekend, including a Latin America-Asia Pacific solidarity event, talks and Q&A sessions with the international guests.

Visit the conference website.

Krishnan is a central leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) and editor of Liberation, the party's magazine. A former leader of the All India Students Association (AISA), Krishnan is joint secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA), which is active among women workers and agricultural labourers, and has led struggles for the dignity and rights of Dalit women, and against state repression.

The AISA and AIPWA played significant roles in the struggle against sexual violence that followed the internationally publicised gang rape of a student in Delhi. The movement took up the slogan of a woman’s right to live in freedom, without fear of rape and free from the patriarchal control of the family and community.

Krishnan has become a well-known international spokesperson for the movement. A speech Krishnan gave to protesters outside a local MP's office in Delhi in December 2012 went viral.

In it, Krishnan proclaimed that "women have every right to be adventurous" and that regardless of whether a woman "is indoors or outside, whether it is day or night, for whatever reason, however she may be dressed — women have a right to freedom. And that freedom without fear is what we need to protect, to guard and respect.”

Krishnan has been interviewed by international media outlets, including the Guardian and Al Jazeera.

Tariq is the general secretary of the AWP, which was formed in December 2012 from unity of three existing parties. The AWP recently campaigned for land rights and against the eviction of shanty town dwellers in Islamabad, mobilising more than 2000 people who marched to the national parliament.

Arul is the general secretary of the PSM. The PSM recently formed the Left Coalition with Parti Rakyat Malaysia, Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia and other activists and individuals. The coalition is an anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-feudal movement based on class struggle, and taking up the struggle for women's rights, for the environment and against the privatisation of public services.

Melencio is chairperson of the PLM and a council member of the Solidarity of Filipino Workers. At its recent national convention, the PLM launched a discussion about bayanihan socialism, which draws on lessons from the Latin American experience, linking the egalitarian principles of socialism with national and Indigenous historical experiences and traditions, as a means to popularise the ideas of socialism to a mass audience in the Philippines.

Dhital is the editor of Janadesh Weekly, a newspaper that was published underground during the years of guerrilla war. He is also a member of the central publicity department of UCPN-M, the convener of Nepal-Venezuela Solidarity Network and a board member of Nepal Press Council.

June 8 and 9 will feature discussion and decision-making sessions for Socialist Alliance delegates (with sessions open to all Socialist Alliance members and invited guests) on a range of policies and proposals, as well as workshops and social events.

For more information, visit the conference website.