Plight of Nagaland women
TAKING into account events unfolding in neighbouring Nagaland since announcement to conduct election to the urban local bodies, it needs no reminding that the objections raised against reservation of seats for women has brought direct confrontation between male-centric civil societies and tribe organisations with the state government in addition to ignoring plight of the women. With the exception of few, most of the civil societies seem to be opposed to the government’s move for empowering the women by providing them esteemed space in decision making bodies. Although earmarking seats for women in all decision making bodies is being seen as recognition about importance of women’s role in the nation building process and to provide them a level playing field for active participation in politics, it is ironical that many male-centric civil societies in Nagaland construe the impending election as an infringement against the time-tested traditions and culture of the Nagas. The perception that involving women in decision making bodies will contravene the male-oriented traditions and culture seems to not only reflect antique mind-set of leaders of these organisations, which are opposed to reservation of seats for the women, but also contradicts the commonly accepted assumption that education of the girl child is inevitable to transform them into pragmatic and independent citizens. By opposing rights of the women the Naga civil societies also seem to be intentionally defying the fact that facilitating unrepresented entities is imperative for a progressive society and correct an inherited inequality.
Another disturbing fallout of the urban local bodies’ election in neighbouring Nagaland is the objection raised by the Central Nagaland Tribes Council against candidacy of non-Nagaland Nagas from neighbouring states as such tough stand could be huge setback for some organisations, including those from Manipur, which have been harbouring the idea of uniting Nagas scattered in the north east region and immediate neighbouring countries and bringing them under a single administrative unit. Such objection could also be construed as some section of the Nagaland Nagas unwilling to recognise other Nagas as their blood brothers apart from exposing that the so-called movement for amalgamation of all Naga tribes is being carried forth at the behest of some organisations. The tribe council going to the extent of claiming that fielding non-natives in the upcoming election will be detrimental to interest of Nagaland Nagas seems to be driving home the point that the Nagas are averse to entertaining Nagas of neighbouring states into their fold. Those in the tribe council are also unfazed by the explanation of a women’s committee that reservations for women, which was facilitated by an Act enacted in 2006 by the Nagaland State Assembly, in the urban local bodies does not infringe on constitutional rights of the male or go against the customary and social practices of the Nagas since towns and municipalities are not traditional concepts or institutions for the Naga people. Apart from supressing the women’s aspiration for participation in decision-making bodies, objection raised against the seat reservation also reflects that apart from Olympian archer Chekrovolu Swuro, rejection of rights of Naga women have been having adverse impact upon the Naga eves in exploring their latent talent and excel in diverse fields.