Kohima: This International Women’s Day, we compiled a short list of inspiring and influential women from Nagaland, who are playing their part each day in challenging and breaking the status quo, reinventing the society and culture. The list is not based on any rankings as it would be impossible to rank these powerful women.
In male-dominated politics, Rosemary Dzüvichü, professor of English literature at Nagaland University and adviser of the Naga Mothers Association (NMA), has emerged a strong advocate in the fight for women’s representation in state politics. In October last year, she was appointed a member of the state government’s committee to review the Municipality Act and the reservation policy in Nagaland as the contentious issue of 33% women reservation in the long-overdue Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) elections which caused unrest in 2017, is likely to see the light of day.
As the International women’s day is observed on March 8 every year, she shared how fortunate it is for her to have been brought up as an equal with her brothers by her progressive parents, receiving the best education in privileged institutions because her father believed that “daughters are as important in the family as the sons”.
“The success of a woman in any profession depends on one’s commitment and hard work. Often, we have to work harder than our male counterparts because there is much bias even among the highest educated circles. This is the 21st century and Nagas must Break the Bias against our girls and women. Stop stereotyping, encourage the girl child and let her bloom into the multifaceted woman that she can be. My dream is to see a Naga world of gender equality, gender justice and an end to discrimination against the girl child and women in many homes, unseen and unspoken,” she tells EastMojo.
Cultural entrepreneur and proprietor of Heirloom Naga, Jesmina Zeliang, who began her entrepreneurial journey in 1993 with cane and bamboo crafts, has taken the textiles of Nagaland to the global market.
She now exports products to over 30 countries as she engages over 400 women weavers from Nagaland, Manipur and Assam, and over 500 male artisans.
“Women must be celebrated everyday. Press the pause button sometimes to examine the myriad roles women perform—a mother, a nurturer, a caregiver, a homemaker, a working woman, an independent entrepreneur and in instances like mine, a single parent and a provider!” she tells EastMojo.
Hekani Jakhalu Kense
Award-winning lawyer-turned-social entrepreneur, Hekani Jakhalu Kense, founder and chair of YouthNet, has been working on youth empowerment, employment and livelihood for the past 15 years. Through YouthNet, over 1 lakh young people from Nagaland have been impacted through various interventions.
“When I started my professional journey, I never looked at my gender from the perspective of ‘advantage or disadvantage of being a woman’. As a professional, I stayed focused on my mission to empower and positively impact our youth. Today I am proud that I have 110 strong teams working on a common vision for our youth. There is nothing a woman can’t achieve. It is all about our mindset and how we work towards achieving it. This women’s day let us work towards shedding off our belief that we are ‘a little inferior’ or our ‘dependency syndrome’ (if any). We need to do this not only for ourselves but for our daughters and their future,” Kense tells EastMojo.
Easterine Kire, award-winning author and poet, is a pioneer of modern Naga literature. She is also the first novelist from Nagaland in the English language with her book titled A Naga Village Remembered (Ura Academy 2003). From personal experiences to writings about the Naga society, its history and culture, Kire’s storytelling has undoubtedly produced Naga literature in a way.
As one of the best Naga writers of all times, Kire’s works has been translated into many languages, including German, Croatian, Uzbek, Norwegian and Nepali. A writer of children books, her works are also taught in schools.
In her book A terrible Matriarchy, Kire highlights the “non-status” of women in society. As she shared how “women have little or no voice”, she highlighted that at the same time, there are some women who are able to manipulate men in such a way that men think they are making the decisions.
At a time when different musical genres were widely popular, the unique folk music of the Tetseo Sisters blazed the trail, as they became internationally renowned for their music. The four sisters—Mütsevelü (Mercy), Azine Vezivolü (Azi), Kuvelü (Kuku) and Alüne Tetseo (Lulu) not only grabbed attention for their music, which displays the rich tradition of the Nagas, but the traditional attires and ornaments they adorn during their performances also captivated people. Now joined by their brother Mhaseve Tetseo, the band continues to be cultural and musical ambassadors for the state.
“To every woman out there, let’s continue uplifting one another in whatever field we are in. Striving to be the best versions of ourselves everyday and yet be able to forgive ourselves and be less punishing on ourselves because we are enough. Let’s learn to be more accepting of ourselves and celebrate being normal and regular too. We don’t have to stretch ourselves too thin to live up to others’ expectations of us. It is imperative to pamper and practice self-love. Cheers to all women on women’s day and every day,” the Tetseo Sisters shared.
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