All is set to observe the International Women’s Day once more. Even though there is no specific event happened on March 8 in any year, the International community has unanimously agreed to observe on the specific day as the day of the women across the globe in recognition to the achievement made by them irrespective of their nationality, caste and create.
The observation of the day has its root at New York. The mass protest of the women garment worker in 1908 demanding improvement of their working condition had brought significant changes to the condition of women. Commemorating the day the United States of America observed February 28 as the National Women’s Day in 2009.
Since then various uprising across the European countries took place. The United Nations later deeply felt the need for recognizing a day particularly for women and since 1975, the March 8 has been observing as the International Day across the globe.
Like every nations across the globe, the erstwhile kingdom of Manipur had witnessed various historic events. The first Nupi lal of 1904 and the 2nd Nupi Lal of 1939, are some of the events where Manipuri women contribution towards bringing a change in the society is worth remembering.
Unlike the western countries which celebrate International Women’s Day, the kind of observation being taken place in a place like Manipur is different – Women’s day being observed by various organizations in the state is rather to find a solution to the problems being faced by the women of today’s Manipuri society. And unlike in the mainland Indian states and other developed and developing countries, the issues are of the women here in Manipur are very different.
There are certain issues like domestic violence, rape and crime against women, issues of widows, orphan girl child may be somewhat similar in almost all human society. But the kind of subjugation being faced by the women of Manipur under the draconian laws and the women becoming most venerable object during conflict between non state actors and state actors is serious.
Women of Manipur have always been in the forefront at every historical event. Manipuri women had been known for their contribution in supporting the society in economy upliftment and societal changes. History proves it. But one thing that confuse to many is why the women still are the seems to be lacking far behind their male counterpart both in education and participation in the governance. As per census record of 2011 the female literacy rate of Manipur is only 65.46%, when the literacy rate for male is 82.14%. This means that women are still seen deprived in education.
On the other hand Manipur’s societal structure is always seen as male dominating society even after knowing that women have been always in the forefront – whether it may be fighting against immoral activities, drugs or wrongs of the government besides taking active role in supporting their respective family economically. But when it comes to rituals women are still forbidden to take the lead role. For example women are not allowed to do Keiyna dan during the marriage of her daughter when she is the only parents left. A widow with only daughters still have to wait some male relative to perform the last rite of her husband or near and dear one. In both Sanamahi and Manipuri Veishnavite culture women are always told to follow the male. They are not allowed to sit at ‘Phambal’- a place where head of the family often sit. This means that women are never considered as the head of family. These are issues.
Another important picture of Manipur is that, a lady – Irom Chanu Sharmila has been on protest by undergoing a fast-unto-death for the past 16 years for repealed of Armed Forces Special Powers Act. This is an act once used by British to suppress the freedom struggle of the country. Even though the act is agreed to be inhumane by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Present Prime Minister Narendra Modi had agreed to scrap the outdated law from the country during his famous speech in US, none of the government both at center and state is not bothering about her protest.
For Manipur Women’s day observance is very significant. But organizations observing the day need more courage to voice the problems of Manipuri women.