Vishü Rita Krocha
The stark reality of politics in Nagaland is that we have never had a woman MLA. And this, despite the fact that all these years, we have been proudly claiming to have treated our women equally.
True, she may be better off in many aspects. She may be allowed to pursue education, to follow her dreams, to even marry the man of her choice, but we all know with absolute certainty that when it comes to politics (or even the apex tribal organisations for that matter), a woman’s place is never, ever given, or considered with seriousness.
Whether we like it or not, agree or disagree, the patriarchal system of our society is deeply rooted in us. And the lack of women participation in the highest level of decision making body in the state is a sheer reflection of this sad reality. But this time around, we see the emergence of women candidates (however little the percentage of their participation still is) and it feels like a good start considering that this number of five women filing their nomination papers is the highest ever in the history of Nagaland state polls.
Their winning is important. I hope at least one of them does. But as some have already observed, whether they win or not, they are already winners. And yes indeed! For the courage they have displayed and for choosing to break strong barriers that wall the gender fabric of our society, despite lots of difficulties and challenges. I am sure it is not easy to act to the call of their hearts. To say, ‘I will enter politics and serve our people.’ To take the road where only very few women have taken before. To be called names they would never have imagined otherwise. To be told ‘we would love to support you but then, you are not a man!’ To be filled with passion for the task ahead only to be disappointed by the very response of their community just because she is a woman.
I hope someday, we will break free from all these shackles and unhealthy perceptions. That we will also see days when a sitting woman MLA does not sound strange on our tongues. That there will be equal representation of men and women in our legislative assembly. Someday.
We may not foresee it, but I truly believe that then, we will be in a better position than now. Perhaps not all women are cut out for the role. Perhaps not all of them will be the best fit. Just as not all men are. But those women with the heart of a politician (in its truest sense) will definitely make a world of difference in our 60-member legislative assembly.
But first, we have to get used to the idea. The idea of women candidates. And I think it’s a good start to have five of them contesting in the forthcoming Nagaland State Assembly elections scheduled for February 27. May their tribe only increase in the days to come!