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Empowered women contribute more to society

By EMN Updated: May 01, 2016 10:37 pm


Many of our Naga men don’t seem quite ready to share political power with our womenfolk. So we conveniently cite the Article 371-A of the Indian Constitution which talks about the protection of the Naga customary laws. That is, we use customary laws to justify the male leadership privileges we have come to enjoy.
Although many of us are not real supporters of the Indian Constitution, we like the Article 371-A. We also talk as if we are for the defense of our Naga customary laws whereas our women are not. For that matter, what is so sacred about our customary laws if they don’t promote equal opportunity for both genders in our society? And what is so unique about our Naga customary laws?
I dare say that 99% of people groups in the world started as patriarchal societies like us too. Men were once hunters and warriors so they had the privilege of leading their societies. For example, during the head-hunting period of our ancestors, our women were expected to carry all farming tools and foods when they went to fields while themenfolks would hold their spears or daos for possible use against any surprise attack from their enemies. But those days of needing to be constantly alert so as to protect their women from such possible dangers are long gone. And yet, our women are still customarily expected to carry things for men. Times have changed. Today, men and women alike, especially in urban areas, are doing the same jobs.
In Nagaland, most of us (men) seem to believe that we don’t discriminate against women in our society. But have we asked our women if they feel the same way? In most traditional Naga homes, for example, sons are still favored over daughters. Our sons could get away with mischiefs now and then, but we expect our daughters to always behave like good little girls. They must do chores at home, while their brothers may play with their friends. When it comes to providing education or even serving meals, we give preference to our sons over our daughters. As parents, we may seek out potential wives for our sons, but we consider it shameful to do the same for our daughters.
Once married, our daughters must be the ones to leave our homes; they have no right of inheritance from their parents. Now as married wives and mothers, they must meet their husbands’ needs, raise their children, weave their shawls, work in their fields, collect firewood, fetch water, cook their food, and serve them. If they suffer beatings at the hands of some unreasonable husbands, they are no customary laws which they can rely upon for their protection or for prosecution against abusive husbands. If they face divorce, they have no claims to their common properties either. In the public square, they have no voice in matters of decision-making. So the question we must ask ourselves is this: Should we support these traditional practices in the name of preserving our customary laws? As far as my personal opinion is concerned, some of these unfair treatments of our wives and daughters seem to be more like our Naga customary flaws than Naga customary laws.
Before we pass judgment on our mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters, every man must at least try to put himself in the place of our female counterparts. Then we may be able to see things a bit differently. But even if we may not agree with our women on certain issues, they are certainly not our foes.
According to the Bible, man and woman are created to be complementary. God did not take a portion of Adam’s head to make Eve so she could sit on his head. Nor did He make the woman out of the man’s feet so she could be stepped on. Rather Eve was created from one of Adam’s ribs, thus signifying the centrality of the female role in man’s life. Also, the divine mandate to rule over God’s creation was given to both of them: For God said, “Let us make man [and woman] in our own image … and let them [both] rule….” So we (men) would do well to recognize our women to “rule” alongside us.
We cannot prosper as a society if we deny opportunity to half of our citizens. We must recognize that we need our women as much as they need us in our nation building. That is, we need their intuition, their refinement, their intelligence, their influence, and their participation to create a better society.
From time immemorial, women have been helping to make this world a better place. They have not always received the credit they deserved, but that has never stopped them from contributing their share of responsibilities to human civilization. Today, large numbers of them are serving in professions of every kind. Many of them are successfully climbing the corporate ladder and launching multimillion dollar enterprises. More than three million women now work in occupations which could be considered “nontraditional” until very recently. In the political arena, not long ago, women didn’t have the right to vote. Now, they’re ruling the world.
Indeed, modern women are bringing many positive changes in the way the world functions today. They have demonstrated that women are able to achieve in male-dominated venues. And they are providing positive messages of equal opportunity to the next generation of women.
In the light of all these emerging trends in the world, our Naga women cannot afford to remain complacent with the status quo. They must proactively fight for equal opportunity. They must assert themselves to fight even for the highest political office in our land, like other women do in all progressive societies. And as for men, don’t we want our daughters, nieces, and granddaughters to grow up in a world of equal opportunity so they can be all they are capable of? After all, freed women can add to our freedom. And empowered women can contribute more. Only then can our society be healthier, better, and fuller.

By EMN Updated: May 01, 2016 10:37:54 pm
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