Women groups seek dialogue to end northeast's insurgencies

By Indo Asian News Service | Saturday, June 13, 2009 | 7:46:03 PM IST (+05:30 GMT) Comment 0 Comment

New Delhi, June 13 (IANS) Several women's groups working in the northeast Saturday called upon the educated women in the region to come together and pressurize the government into 'sincere dialogue' with the insurgent groups to end recurring armed conflicts.

New Delhi, June 13 (IANS) Several women's groups working in the northeast Saturday called upon the educated women in the region to come together and pressurize the government into 'sincere dialogue' with the insurgent groups to end recurring armed conflicts.

Several lawyers, academicians, social activists as well as teachers from the northeastern states met at a conclave Northeast India Women Initiative for Peace in the national capital. The event was organised by the Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network (MWGSN).

'The reason we are talking among ourselves is to reiterate that in 50-odd years of armed conflicts in the region, the role of women has always been sidelined. But we can participate and push for a change. Many women groups are working on same issues but separately. Here we have come together to share our experiences and ideas,' Binalakshmi Nepram, MWGSN founder, told IANS on the sidelines of the conclave.

'Most of us are based in Delhi and from good educated backgrounds. But we need to think: are we really doing much to change things back home? There is a need for the state and non-state parties in armed conflict to enter into a sincere dialogue,' Nepram said, adding that the conclave was the first of many more to come.

Lianboi Vaiphei, political science lecturer at Delhi University's I.P. College for Women, pointed out that it was a myth that women from the northeast were more liberated than in other parts of the country.

'True woman empowerment is when a woman becomes a part of decision making and not when she works or earns. Even though the women electorate is greater than the male electorate in these states, the representation of women in elections is highly negligible,' Vaiphei said.

Anuradha Chenoy from the School of International Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, who is also a Unesco advisor, said: 'In 99 percent of the world's wars the decision to wage them has been taken by men. Women have only supported men's wars. Women are used by the state and non-state actors in different ways during conflict and in the practice of militarism without being conscious of it.'

'Women in the region need to understand the political economy of the militarism, to look at measures to bring peace and justice to the region,' she said.

Sreekala, executive director of the North East Network, said that often 'the government's callous attitude and defensive stand' on the armed conflict in the region hampers implementation of laws.

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