The world is fast moving, marching towards the future where both men and women are joining hands together in building a better, prosperous and more peaceful and happy society. Resultantly in many parts of the world the gap between men and women is fast bridging. The sooner the better! The shift is most evident post Second World War in many western countries which gives birth to the concept like Women in Development (WID), Women and Development (WAD) and Gender and Development (GAD) among others. These kinds of concepts have occupied important stage in any country’s developmental programme policies. No doubt there is a debate on the pros and cons of all these approaches, including the natures of its origin. Many critiques have pointed out that the policies emanated out of the above concepts are mostly guided by the economic reason and not necessary to challenge the traditional social structure which is deeply rooted in patriarchal norms. Nevertheless, if we see the statistics of the world rich list one can see 172 women billionaires out of the total 1,645 billionaires in the world (2014 Forbes list). Likewise there is also a staggering rise in women CEOs in big enterprise across the globe. Not only in economy but also in politics there is an increasing number of women active participation, taking a lead role especially in developed countries. Women parliamentarian in some of the Scandinavian countries such as Sweden or Finland has almost proportionate representation from both the genders. In a nutshell it would not be wrong to say that gender equality is a sign of progressive society.
If we reflect upon the situation of women in Naga society we all have the answers how gender bias our society is. I want to quote the excerpt of John Rawls’ classic work on Theory of Justice (1971) where he said “The natural distribution is neither just nor unjust; nor it is unjust that persons are born into society at some particular position. These are simply natural facts. What is just and unjust is the way that institution deals with these facts”. It is time for all the Nagas to seriously think how the social structure be it family, clan, tribal institution or Hohos, including various other facets of traditional Naga institutions are responsible for killing and subjugating the Power of She in our society. Expanding John Rawls argument it can be equally said that it is not only how institutions is responsible for how we deal with the natural distribution; whether to reward more to football player or cricket player likewise to a brave warrior or to a ‘physically weak IAS officers’. It can be equally applicable to how institution is dealing with the natural distribution to men and women. I would say it would be unjust if we discount the credit of any individual on the basis of gender. Leaving aside this argument, it is my strong believe that the making of a better, peaceful, prosperous and happy society will certainly require our institution including family to start rewarding and recognizing without any gender biasness.
Situating the above discourse in our struggle at various levels including the fight to have our own political space and for economic autonomy will necessarily require effective participation of both men and women. Taking a recent example, it was very disappointing to see only one female delegation out of 10 members in just concluded UNC (United Naga Council) New Delhi trip. I am not arguing that women should be there just for name sake. Women in many fields have demonstrated that they are very effective negotiator and very much result oriented. Why is it not happening to the Nagas? Here I am not trying to blame on one specific organization. It is needless to say that the case is more or less the same in almost all our institutions. Are we men so insecure to team up with powerful and strong women which is why we have to only promote only those women who fits in the traditional concept of ‘Good Woman’? Men! Lets celebrate the little discomfort that it might bring in dealing with strong women in our society but this is the future which can guarantee prosperity, dignity for all and happiness. Let this be a plight of every young Nagas and let this message resonate to every institution in our society where there is presence of gender biasness. The day we celebrate the Power of She in the Naga society, the world and we all will see a much stronger and prosperous Naga Nation! Kuknalim!
My deepest gratitude to all my female friends who inspire me to write this article.
Lakpachui Siro Research Scholar at National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA) Co-founder of FUNICH (Forum for Understanding the Naga-India Conflict & Human Rights)