Monday, June 17, 2024

WHUSA observes International Women’s Day 2024


(Gender issue is not about equality, but issue of equity says Jubilate Kazingmei)

EKHON | UKHRUL: Joining the rest of the world, Society for Indigenous Culture & Environment (SICE) and Women of Hungpung Unit for Social Advancement (WHUSA) observed the International Women’s Day for the first time under the theme “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress” at Ilongshim, Hungpung, Ukhrul Headquarter. The event was sponsored by SICE and Volunteer for Village Development (VVD).

Ency Yanao, president of WHUSA welcomed the gathering and wished the women folks a happy International Women’s Day. She also expressed her gratitude to SICE and VVD for helping them organize the prestigious event and hope to have bigger event organized in future with more activities and better planning.

Speaking on the occasion, Jubilate Kazingmei, Executive Director, VVD touched upon issues of women surrounding customs and religion saying that gender issue is not about equality, but rather an issue of equity. He opened his speech by saying that unless we change our attitude, any celebration we have on women will be met with indifference. Gender discrimination he said began from the very story of the creation of man and woman and the history of women is marked by discrimination.

He shared that in our society, women are being discriminated and put under strict microscopic lens. The society is surrounded by certain stereotype. For instance, if a husband physically dominated his wife, he is considered manly. If a woman wears the pant in the family, people make fun of the man as lady’s handbag. Women cannot speak from the pulpit, they cannot be part of TNL, Tangkhul apex body or hangva etc despite many dialogues.

In the instance where a husband died, the wife and daughter despite grave financial problem cannot sell the land as “it is against the custom.” So, the social make-up of the community is complex and not the kindest place for women. He strongly asserted that it is wrong to say that custom cannot be changed. Custom can be changed with the change of time, he added.

Jubilate Kazingmei lamented that there is gender discrimination even in religion. He observed that many of the teachings of the Bible are also wrong and went on to state that if the writings in the book of Life is all what God is, then ‘God is too small’. He quoted several verses from the Bible to justify the discrimination of women.

However, he held that times have changed and women in the community are now holding good positions even at work. Education has broken the barriers of many of the discrimination and it is important to invest in educating more girls for future progress, he deliberated.

Meanwhile, Shinmila Hungyo, Deputy Manager (IT), MSPDCL, Ukhrul shared how people celebrated International Women’s Day in different ways and how the goal is to achieve gender equality by 2030. Speaking about the deep seeded mindset of our tribal community she said that women are hardwired by the mindset of I am inferior, I am not worth voicing my opinion etc. We should harness our many potentials and continue to invest in women and empower them, she stressed.

About how we can bring women empowerment, Shinmila Hungyo shared that like ‘charity begins at home’, the process to empowering women begins at home too. How the parents are treating their children at home, whether they treat boys and girls equally or with biasness should be assessed. She shared her own example of how male members in her life especially; her father and her husband are instrumental in making her become what she is today.  

LM Thanmi Shimray, Chairman of SICE, also shared his views on how in the olden times, our society treated women in the lowest possible way. As early as 1909, the US had begun to fight for women rights, but it was in 1977 that the United Nation declared the global celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8. But he pointed out that in our community there are still people who wondered if this kind of celebration existed at all.

However, despite the high handedness of men in our society, over the years women has come up and are supporting the family in our society. But until we realized that both men and women are equal, there will be no development, no peace in the society, he added.

He also observed that women are still investing on the deep-seeded cultural mindset that men are superior and continued to stay subordinate despite being superior in reality. He advised that there should be mutual respect between the husband and wife, cooperation in decision making etc. to nurture a fair society.

He felt that events like the International Women’s Day celebration should be observed to foster mutual respect, sharing, dialogue and togetherness for women and said that’s he’s happy that this step was taken up. He also apprised that the process to make women part of the decision-making body is underway and hopefully it should be amended and that women should also enjoy equal rights in the society.

The intimate observation of International Women’s Day was attended by over 150 women folks from Hungpung. WHUSA, an apex women organization of Hungpung has played significant role in the lives of women in the district headquarter town of Ukhrul.


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