Saturday, 13 December 2008

Empower womenfolk; automatically community will come to line

By Santosh Kumar Singh, Manipal

Upliftment of Bishnupriya Manipuri community without women empowerment is like daydreaming which can never be fulfilled as no reality is involved. Eminent personalities viz. Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Swami Vivekananda understood women's importance in the development of a whole system. Westerners understood this mantra because of which they are far ahead.

There are many more problems Bishnupriya Manipuri women are facing, which decelerates the pace of its overall development. Some of the problems faced by Bishnupriya Manipuri community in its women upliftment are:

1.Girls are not motivated to have higher studies as people think the investment in their studies is useless as no return is involved. One can experience this problem mostly in villages.
Gaange manuye khalkortara, ningolore niyaam lerik taamkoruweiya kita kaana, maanur ghore jitaigaago, haante khaani maani taamkoruweiya toraakore biya denaai baala.

2. Girls and newly married women face lots of oppositions in doing job outside.
If we claim ourselves originated from Manipur, can we learn something from women empowerment in Manipur so that if we can implement some of their initiatives to change the position of our women in society.

1. Manipuri women's role in the socio-economic and cultural life of Manipur is significant. Manipuri women do not stay behind the veil. They also do all the buying and selling of goods in the market. Women dominate the markets in the rural and urban areas. Their unique role in the market will be known if one visits Khwairamband Bazar at the heart of Imphal. They are greatly involved in the agricultural related activities. They are artistic and creative which they prove in the field of handloom and handicrafts and dance. One significant observation that we find today in Manipur is the rise in the number of women entrepreneurs and women self help groups. The numbers of working women in different sectors are increasing.

Aami koti niyaam jeleire economically independent baaro entrepreneur oite paangkoriyaar?

2. Meira Paibi (torch bearer) movement is a new women's movement in Manipur. It exemplifies another collective women's power in Manipur. It began in the 1980s and is still gaining momentum. The womenfolk to save people from the clutches of liquor and drugs launched the movement. This movement has become a major struggle for human rights. The role of the Meira Paibi is gaining ground due to the rapid increased in the human rights violation and other social problems like HIV/AIDS. As one of the important social institutions, Meira Paibi group has got the potential to become a very significant instrument of progressive social transformation.

Aajikar dine praai haabbi Bishnupriya Manipuri gaangor maanu hinpeitara modor problemlo, gaangor unemployed munisou sondhya haan oilei modor aashorlo boitara, loge juwaa khelani haante aasei. Esade Bishnupriya Manipurir backbone (gaaorapei) aadharede gelega aami cheyaar hopon haan kungoi baro kisade puron oitoi.

So, can we have such women groups in villages to take care of these problems?

3. Marup or cooperative movement is another movement spearheaded by women for generating income. From the early days the Manipuri society has inbuilt system of socio-economic cooperation known as Marup which continues till now successfully throughout the state. Marup, a type of self help group, is a group or association of individual with common economic needs who undertake an economic activity by participating directly in decision making and sharing the benefits on an equitable basis. It strengthens the existing income generating activity of members and also helps the members to start a new activity of members. This not only makes them economically independent but also helps their families with their financial contributions. It also acts as the financial intermediaries.

The members are engaged in both service and production activities. Some of the main incomes generating activities of the groups are – Agarbati making, Papad making, Doll-making, Handloom/Handicrafts, preparation of different sweet items, fruit and vegetable preservation etc. The Marups (cooperatives) are the best vehicles for empowerment of women in Manipur. They are the major force for the economic development of the State.

Marup jodiyou aamar kotogo Bishnupriya Manipuri gaange kheleitara, kintu onek gaange ebakao ehaan ojana oya aashe.

Kotogo gaange SHG ( Self Help Group) honkoresi jetaai aamar beyapa, emai ghore honkortara jinis baaire bechiya aamar beyapa,ema gaashire aarthikbhabe chaangkhol kortara. Kintu ebakao SHG haabbi gaange naadehiyaar.

Bishnupriya Manipuri women can contribute immensely in the socio-economic transformation and upliftment of the society. The society is still in the womb of the patriarchal system. Women have no much say in the decision making process. Their representations both in the secondary and tertiary sectors are quite minimal. The preference of male child is still prevalent. There are certain rituals where women's involvements are considered profane and restricted their participation. Women produce children; they are mothers and wives; they do the cooking, mending, sewing and washing; they take care of men and are subordinate to male authority; they are largely excluded from high status occupations and from positions of power. In terms of the reward of prestige, wealth and power attached to gender role, women almost invariably come off worst.

There is a need to change the attitude of the society in general and men in particular. It is high time that we respect and reflect on the contributions of women not only in the socio-economic sphere but also in the fields of cultural, political and sports. Women of Bishnupriya Manipuri deserve a higher status. For the development of any society the status of women is a key factor determining progress.

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