Attitudinal shift in women’s thoughts and the society’s mindset on gender equality
KOHIMA, MARCH 7
In Nagaland, the recent years witnessed considerable change and attitudinal shift in women’s thoughts and the society’s mindset on gender equality. Unfortunately, empowerment of women as equal citizens remains yet to be fully realized and the presence of women in politics or in decision making bodies is yet to be seen. On the other hand, discrimination and violence against women also still runs high. Nevertheless, despite disparities many Naga women have withstood any discernment and have worked their way up the stratum of their profession to become torch bearers. Eastern Mirror caught up with few women from different backgrounds who are currently holding prime positions in their respective fields of work. While we share the views of these women, we pay our respects to all women on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2015.
“Naga women have come a long way from just being treated as a housewife to a homemaker now,” says Mezivolü Therieh, Chief Judicial Magistrate & Civil Judge Senior Division Kohima. However, this mother of three observes that the patriarchal mindset is still very strong in the society and Naga women are yet to achieve total independence. Development and progress remain lopsided due to gender biasedness, she says, while voicing concern that this patriarchal mindset is deeply rooted and will need much awareness and educating. She feels that the aspired changes would not come if attitude and mindsets towards women are not changed and building a future for the children will become a failure.
“On another International Women’s Day in the midst of rape violence and deaths, we grieve… We protest against rape being used as an excuse for inhuman behaviour, taking the law into our hands,” says Dr. Rosemary Dzuvichu, advisor Naga Mothers’ Association and director Women Studies Centre , referring to the recent adverse situation in the state.
She underscores the need for Security (of women) by strict implementation of laws, Freedom by shedding socialised mindsets that “push women back into the middle ages”, and Love and Understanding instead of domestic violence behind closed doors of families. The women activist expresses hope that the present government which consist of younger leaders and bureaucrats will have the courage and conscience to implement various laws that empower, protect and promote women’s rights and lives.
“Only then can we walk as equal partners and not two steps behind our men,” she asserts. As for her message for the occasion, she promptly states, “Happy Women’s Day to all our women and also to all men who believe in respect and equality.”
Secretary Home department & director Administrative Training Institute, Lithrongla G Chishi observes that although we live in a traditional society where our traditions and customs define us, sometimes change is needed. She advocates that negative aspects of tradition must be changed for the better, while the positive ones should be imbibed and passed on.
She feels that while there are equal opportunities for all children, it is due to the economic and social situation which still creates barriers. The bureaucrat, who is into her 32nd year of service, considers herself a traditional woman who endeavours daily to balance her role as a wife, a mother of four, and a government servant. She generously states that her success as an administrator is all due to the support from her family, her husband and children.
Olympic archer, Chekrovolü (Swuro) Nukhu feels that Naga women are much more fortunate to be equally involved in social life without having to come across the inferiority complex compared to most parts of mainland India. Chekrovolü was a member of the silver medal winning team in the 2011 World Archery Championships, and she represented India at the 2012 London Olympic Games. She is the first Naga woman Olympian and the second Naga athlete to participate in the Olympics after Dr. T Ao.
Chekrovolü, who is also a police officer serving as a Dy. SP in the state police force, says the challenges in working in a uniformed service and being a sportsperson are similar. “Discipline is the major key to success in any profession,” she says and opines that Naga women can serve the society equally, given the opportunity. “Let’s remember that International Women’s Day was initiated to let the world know that women can contribute equally to society…. Maintain peace, be the voice to condemn violence and also maintain communal harmony alongside with men,” the Olympic archer conveys.
“I believe Naga women are extremely gifted, smart, confident, capable, beautiful and feminine….. They are successful in many fields but I don’t think we are accepted or welcome in many areas in Nagaland – politically and traditionally. That is a loss for the Nagas,” says Khyochano TCK Ngully, a Kohima-based music professional who has over 20 years experience of teaching music to children and adults. Educated in Los Angeles at BIOLA conservatory of Music, Khyochano has worked as a music a professional in schools and churches in India, Laos, USA and Singapore as music director, curriculum consultant, piano instructor, composer, music missionary and so on.
On the challenges in her profession, she says that Music is a non- discriminatory field and she feels blessed each day to be doing what she loves to do – creating music, influencing the emerging musicians of the next generation and working with other musicians.
However, she considers time management and choice as personal challenges in every place she has worked. She is grateful that her family nurtured and encouraged her to pursue what she wanted, and emotionally recalls how grateful she is also to her late husband who believed in her.
Khyochano is currently the Director of Music Academy Kohima and she is the official local area representative of Trinity College of Music, London for Nagaland.