Salhoutuonuo Kruse shakes hands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the swearing-in of the new Government of Nagaland in Kohima on March 7. (PIB Photo)
Vishü Rita Krocha
Kohima | March 7
The historic win of the first two women legislators in Nagaland is yet to sink in. After all, it has taken 60 years for this "big breakthrough" even as social activist Vitono Gugu Haralu says, "As woman-to-woman, we celebrate their victory and we are in solidarity."
Speaking to The Morung Express on the eve of International Women’s Day, which falls on March 8, she also, however, notes, "Their crown just got heavier as everyone's eyes are on them and how they are going to perform. Will they be different from their counterparts? There is no doubt they are so capable, but the question is how they are going to find their place. Will they stand against corruption or will they be like any other?" she poses.
Emphasizing that "as a woman, we must be a conscience keeper for our fellow women," she goes on to explain that "we are going to be held responsible and accountable equally when we already have a representative." In the meantime, she believes that "women are already empowered. We just need to believe in ourselves and know who we are and pitch on that."
Asserting that this is the way forward, she states, "For this year's Women's Day, we need to know who we are and what we are capable of because we are fearfully and wonderfully made. When we center ourselves and our identity in Christ, we know what our calling is."
She also professes that "when women come together collectively, using resources for a common purpose, it is so powerful." In this regard, 90.8 Hills FM is observing International Women's Day with zero cash involved, wherein the women involved are contributing whatever they can, whether it is their skills, services, or space for the event, which will be held under this year's theme: "DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality."
Interestingly, while people still question if radio is still relevant, the 90.8 Hills FM Community Radio is being innovatively used to carry the voices of women with the view to build one another. "We bring in stories of people, making their stories heard, making them visible, and also finding a sense of belonging, which is the whole purpose of community radio," Haralu substantiates to this.
For Colo Mero, the representation of women in the state legislative assembly is something he has strongly felt for a long time even as he comments on their victory by saying, "I am a man but I am very excited about our two women." He is particularly happy that the men in various parties also realized and decided to give an opportunity for women who also have the ability and the potential to contest and who are at par with men or can even do better and not just for namesake.
"Both of them were closely contested, but both of them stood their ground and proved themselves," he further remarks while stating that the first big test is through. Now, he emphasizes, "It is extremely important for the two of them to really do well, to prove the majority of people in Nagaland wrong, especially men that women can do well or are even better."
Affirming that "I am happy that both are able and confident and they can handle this," he goes on to say that another history has been made today with Salhoutuonuo Kruse getting into the cabinet. "I am very excited," he reiterates. But he also adds, "Just in case they are just average like any other MLA, that's going to be bad for the next ones. If they do well here, it is going to open more ways for women in the future. Maybe we will have double or triple of what we have in the next election."
Underlining that they won not because they are women, but because they fought well and have the capacity, he further articulates, “I look forward to the next five years.”
While it has only been men in the decision-making for the last several decades in this regard, Simon Raikhan says, “now that there are also women in the Nagaland Legislative Assembly, the expectation is that there will be stronger and better decisions.” “Their winning is a sign that many more will also follow in the years to come,” he adds.