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Editorial

Gender equity

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By EMN Updated: Oct 27, 2013 10:40 pm
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[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he term ‘gender equity’ draws up more often than not the images of rights of women over those of men. Some people even equate the term to feminism. But the word ‘gender’ itself explains that it refers to both male and female. Gender equity then applies to viewing the equal rights of men and women in the backdrop of culturally and socially constructed gender roles that fixes responsibilities, privileges, relations and expectations of women and men. boys and girls. The changes which take place from changes with time and place to place.Oddly till 1995, the term gender indicated ‘women’ only. Gender is not sex determination that is a reference to biological differences but is veered towards the relationships between ‘men’ and ‘women’- relations that are socially and culturally determined and indicate power differences.
But it is universally proven that for a society to prosper and progress ‘gender equity’ has to be on an even keel not only weighing in favor of one group.
When it comes to Nagaland , contrary to popular belief that women are liberated and empowered the picture on the ground is a harsh reality.
The Women’s Component Plan (WCP) ( 9th Five Year Plan) in its report maintains that most activities which attempted to ensure women’s participation in mainstream development have mainly focused on improving women’s economic status. No corresponding action was ever made in improving their status. The report also notes that specific problems faced by women like domestic violence, harassment at the workplace, lack of mobility, prohibitions against marketing of their products, reproductive health problems, lack of property and inheritance rights, lack of control over their income, lack of access to and control over resources etc have not permeated to any significant extent and mainstream development discussions.
The situation in Nagaland is further compounded by the lack of a baseline data on the status of women in the state. Resource crunch got the better of a such a study for which the issues concerning 47.62% of the population of the state could not be considered or prioritized in the development agenda.
Other factors which could have added to this situation is that Naga women are excluded from the decision making process, different rules apply foe the devolution of ancestral and self acquired land, more often than not women have no individual income. The lack of clarity on how to identify the needs of women also affects the participation of women in the village development boards. The VDB’s have reserved 25 % for women representatives to encourage women participation on development and Local Bodies.
In this context it was not only appropriate but timely for the Governor Ashwani Kumar to dwell on ‘gender equality’ in Naga society while speaking on the annual Day celebrations of Pranabananda’s Women’s College, in Dimapur. The governor succinctly stated that the ‘first step towards providing justice is ensuring equality before law, irrespective of gender’. The rights of women socially, economically and politically are protected under the Constitution, he added.
He said that latest research conducted by international organizations which empower women through education and employment have shown that the changes such an approach bring are the ‘quickest means of ensuring well being of the family, economically, and peacefully’.
Translating the values of ‘gender equity’ has to begin in the homes and workplaces and also in the educational institutions. Just as it is important for women to be educated on their rights it is equally, if not more urgent for men to understand this and take a lead if they want a society that is both progressive and peaceful.
The choice is ours for a ‘que sera sera future’ or one which we can help shape for the better.

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By EMN Updated: Oct 27, 2013 10:40:50 pm