Chizami enables women’s participation in decision making

Members of the Chizami Village Development Board.
Members of the Chizami Village Development Board.

Chizami inducts women members in village council and VDB management committee

Vishü Rita Krocha
Kohima | March 7 

Signalling hope for stronger participation of women in decision making roles, Chizami village has made a revolutionary change by inducting 4 Village Council Members who are women and 6 women in the Management Committee of the Village Development Board (VDB). 

For the first time in its history, and possibly in the whole of Nagaland state as far as villages are concerned, these women are now taking active part in decision making, sitting alongside men, sharing ideas and are part of any discussion that is being called for.

While the Nagaland VDB Model Rules says that members to be included in the Management Committee of the VDB should not be less than one fourth of the total number of members of the Management Committee of the VDB’s, it has remained only in paper for most villages. In Chizami, this has been made possible largely because of its new Village Council Chairman, Kewepelo Tsuhah and VDB Secretary, Colo Mero.

Even though the VDB Rules say 25% should be women, Colo Mero observed that Naga villages do not follow this, and even if they do, the women are included only to serve. “I didn’t want cooks and for service…whether men or women, they must be part of the discussion”, he stated.

This year, the theme for International Women’s Day that falls on March 8 is ‘Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.’ Colo Mero believed that their ground-breaking step will not only impact women leadership but also impact the whole village management and development.

“Women can bring in more details, and in many cases, women are more practical, men will think big and plan big but all big things also stem from the minute details,” he stated. When it comes to involving women in decision making processes, Mero stated that most just sit and listen, have nothing to say and are demoted to kitchen services.

“Our women members should also understand that they are not just representing women but the whole village and so in the absence of men also, they should be able to lead independently and confidently share their concerns. It is high time not just in the VDB but any organisation in Naga society in our villages, the women folk also should nominate or volunteer and come at par. I don’t understand why in this 21st century also, we still need women’s coordinator”, he put across.

“I wish women become more confident and when given responsibilities and opportunities, especially in male dominated organisations, they must also give their best and make a difference,” he stated, adding that women led organisations do better. 

The Chizami Women Society has been lobbying for years to include 25% of women in the VDB Management Committee. “The journey was challenging for us to be where we are today”, Wedele Tsuhah, Women VDB In Charge said while adding that “because of supportive menfolk like the present VCC and the VDB Secretary, we are able to achieve this.” 

The other members include Neivole Wetsah, Neitshou Akami, Lhikhrolou Tsuhah, Neikhrolou Thopi, and Lhikoweu Chirhah.

Ever since she has been inducted in August 2020, Wedele Tsuhah can feel the change. “We have been closely working together and been part of planning and implementing developmental activities, schemes, etc”, she noted. The 40-year-old woman who graduated from St. Mary’s College, Shillong and also did a designing course, had always dreamt of being a leader. 

Meanwhile, Keneile Thopi, a member of the Chizami Village Council is excited that they are “now able to attend all the men’s meeting of the village council.” The Village Council Chairman had also made it clear that the women VCM are not allowed to cook or make tea, as has been the tradition, while men deliberate on issues during meetings. Thopi felt that having 4 women members in the village council and 6 women in the VDB Management Committee is one of their achievements.

“I feel very happy that the menfolk have been very supportive. It’s just been one month but I will do my best”, she stated. In the future, she is hopeful that women can hold the post of Secretary of the Village Council or even the Chairman of the Village Council. 

The other three women members in the village council include Keneile Thopi, Kezukhau Mero, Khrozolou lohe, and Tshelou Lasuh.