TODAY -

E-Pao! Opinion - Rethinking Women's Power in Manipur

Rethinking Women's Power in Manipur

By: Otojit Kshetrimayum *



Manipur has witnessed the successful role of collective women's power in the past and also in the present day. This is something, which we can celebrate. However despite their major contributions in the socio-economic and political life of the state, they are not given their due position in society. Thus there is a mismatch between women's role and status. This is indeed a matter of great concern, which we all need to ponder over.

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. Their dominance in the field of sports not only in the national level but also in the international level is remarkable. 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 workingwomen in different sectors are increasing.

Manipuri women have always played a very vital and active role in social movements. The role of women in these movements can be traced back to the pre British Period when Manipur was under monarchial system. But women's social movements emerged in an organized manner from the early part of the 20th century. One was in 1904, which was popularly known as the first Nupilan (women's agitation). It was against the unjust British administration. Because of their high spirit struggle, many administrative reforms were then made, and women leaders emerged in Manipuri's traditionally male-dominated sphere of business, trade and commerce. The second was the Nupilan of 1939. It was a spontaneous eruption of the suppressed energy of the exploited people. The main cause of the movement was directly related to the irregularities and malpractices in the administration of the state and the economic exploitation by the authority. In the agitation some of the women leaders and along with their sympathisers were sent to jail. All the womenfolk expressed their deep concern over the matter. They stopped business in the market and the Khwairamband Bazar remained devastated for three years. Ultimately they succeeded in bringing reforms in administration. The outbreak of women agitation was a turning point in the emergence of new trend of political and national consciousness in the state.

Meirapaibi (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 Meirapaibi 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, Meirapaibi group has got the potential to become a very significant instrument of progressive social transformation.

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. Another important sphere, which is in the limelight, is the political participation of women. The level of Manipuri women's political participation is not quite up to the mark. However their participation in the local self-government is a positive signal for the success of democracy at the grass root level. This will bring a major thrust in the process of rural development and women empowerment.

Manipur women have thus contributed immensely in the socio-economic transformation and upliftment of the society. The above glaring instances of collective women's power in Manipur - Nupilan, Meirapaibi and Marup movements will surely make a reader believe, that womenfolk in Manipur are accorded high status. But unfortunately the reality is somewhat the other way round. 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. According to the 2001 census, Manipur has a total population of 2,388,634. Out of these the numbers of males and females are 1,207,388 and 1,181,296 respectively. The literacy rate of the state is 68.87 %. For males the literacy rate is 77.87 % while for females it is 59.70 %. Thus there is a gap of 18.17 % in the male-female literacy rate, which clearly indicates the prejudices of the society towards the female child. It is also worth noting that 40.30 % of the female populations are illiterate. Here, education is crucial because it is said that if you educate a man, you educate an individual whereas if you educate a woman you are educating the entire family. One interesting fact is that the sex ratio of Manipur is much above many other Indian states. It is 978 as compared to all India ratios of 933. Though the cases of dowry deaths, rape and molestation are not so high in Manipur, there are incidents of eve-teasing and domestic violence which are symptomatic of a larger malaise where Manipuri women are not given due position in society.

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 Manipur deserve a higher status, for the development of any society the status of women is a key factor determining progress.


*Otojit Kshetrimayum is a research scholar in the Centre for the Study of Social Systems; JNU, New Delhi. He can be contacted at otojitk@yahoo.co.in

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • The Killing Fields (2013-17) :: Timeline
  • For every causes, there is a reason
  • Moibung Khunou -near khurkhul :: Gallery
  • Miss Kut #4 :: Gallery
  • On the Naga Framework Agreement
  • Media Challenge: Glance from hills #1
  • GIS day at NIT Manipur
  • Pangal Leader Mohammed Hanif Shah
  • NPF questions Speaker convening meet
  • Painting Exhibition by Babli Das (Tripura)
  • Indo-Naga Talks 2017 :: News Timeline
  • Looking out for possible measures
  • Manipur Sangai Festival 2016 #7 : Ooba
  • Cultural Program @ MCA :: Gallery
  • Parihal, Nimshimphy, Neilianthang: eMing
  • Ningol ChakKouba @MBC #3 :: Gallery
  • Oh dear Daddy, see I a Native Proud: Poem
  • Buddha's metta and karuna #3
  • Narendra Modi will never play Nehru
  • Photo Caption Contest by Whakal.com
  • General Call to All Former NPF Leaders
  • Penguin Readathon & Book Gifting
  • ENNG opposes inclusion of TCL..
  • Report alarm for Arunachal
  • Loktak witness drastic fall in migratory birds
  • Lecture on 'Rohingya Resettlement'
  • 'Weaves of Ching-tam' @London :: Gallery
  • Opening: Jadonang Football #1 :: Gallery
  • Robert's Weaves of valley & hills at London
  • Remembering boy..felled by fake encounter
  • Reorganisation of North Eastern Council #1
  • Sangai Photo Awards 2017 : Contest
  • Meeyam meekup nahum singna leibiyu
  • HighWays : Govt. needs seriousness
  • Singcha Wuya Won @Kamjong #4 :: Gallery
  • SDG Consultation: NE :: Gallery
  • North East Fashion Week #1 :: Gallery
  • Distribution Patterns of the Asian Eye
  • Sustainable Development Goal Consultation
  • Wrangle in Mapithel dam: Legal perspective
  • In the Slums of Heaven :: Poem
  • Wreath Laying Ceremony for AR Martyrs
  • Time to take a bow, Robert
  • Create jobs for NE to stop trafficking
  • March: Mera Houchongba #4:: Gallery
  • Sin-Lang Fest @DM College #2 :: Gallery
  • Sangai Festival: Ideas for a change
  • A shadowy dreamer :: Poem
  • Winter - A blessing in disguise for us ...
  • Course in Nanotechnology at NEHU
  • Pamel : Serene Natural Hub, near Lamlai
  • Vacancy at YVU Financial Services, Thoubal
  • System Operators @PR Enterprise, Khurai
  • Just by showing concern will not change..
  • Food Stall @Phayeng #2 :: Gallery
  • Miss Kut #3 :: Gallery
  • The moment :: Poem
  • Board exams decoded
  • 3rd NE Fashion at Itanagar: Day 2
  • Conference : North East in Globalized Era
  • NE-IAS launched to support Startup India
  • Painting Competition on Conservation
  • Ramkung Pamei is new MHJU Chief
  • Charuangc 2017: Rongmeis in Delhi & NCR
  • Priyogopal (Senior Artist)- Photo :: eRang
  • Kabui Dance @Jadonang Football:: Gallery
  • Fashion @NE Festival, Delhi :: Gallery
  • Deviance and Corruption in Kangleipak
  • Applied health research is vital to #endTB
  • 3rd NE Fashion at Itanagar: Day 1
  • Tri-nation Motorcycle Rally reach Imphal
  • Traffic woes continues
  • Kwatha festival #1 :: Gallery
  • Kokkhum Festival #1 :: Gallery
  • Special Rapporteur on Human Rights
  • The threat to balkanize Manipur
  • Cry of a Dying River - 6 :: Poem
  • Biological based integrated Congress grass
  • 3rd Audition of Fagi Unplugged
  • Sadar Hills District Demand: News Timeline
  • Of clean environment
  • Paonam Lily (Archery) Reception :: Gallery
  • North East Fest @ Delhi :: Gallery
  • Girls Football- Nov 4 #2 :: Gallery
  • IBSD, India & VITO, Belgium signed MOU
  • First angioplasty for in-stent restenosis
  • RIST Popular Talk-33: Quantum Hall states
  • Commonwealth alumni event of NE
  • Lecture on The Rohingya Conundrum
  • Tri-National Motorcycle Rally
  • 3rd North East Fashion Week at Itanagar
  • ILP Nov 30 deadline: Why not only for valley
  • Expected changes, do we see ?
  • Festival of Raas Leela #2 :: Gallery
  • Sin-Lang Fest @DM College #1 :: Gallery
  • Hari Uthan- Kang Chingba #2 :: Gallery
  • Code of silence: Concealing gender justice
  • God Rules Over All :: Poem
  • Five day 'Flower Show' at Ukhrul
  • Go birding to honour Bird Man of India
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Uphul Waiphul and Leikhom Leinang
  • A reminder to Central Govt.
  • Assam, Manipur bid to better ties
  • Ningol Chak-Kouba @Pune :: Gallery
  • Miss Kut #2 :: Gallery
  • Meitei Pictographic Writings :: Book Review
  • Careers related to mental health
  • Beauty & Money for a purpose
  • Human rights infractions in Mapithel Dam
  • AMAND Ningol Chakouba at Pune : Report
  • Chef Required at Kakching
  • NHPC Raising day at Loktak Power Station
  • Mary Kom enter Asian Ch'ships final
  • Of ST demand, ILP, peace talk
  • For elderly people
  • Prof. Nongmaithem Tombi Singh : A Profile
  • Hazari/ Tombi Polo Tournament #2:: Gallery
  • U-17 Footballer honored by Guv :: Gallery
  • Just in favour of nocturnal life
  • Dance of Fire Flies at Autumn :: Poem
  • North East Festival bids farewell
  • Protest over Naga pact
  • Agenda of Govt spelt out at DBC, Maram
  • Nurturing the future
  • Ningol Chak-Kouba @Delhi #2:: Gallery
  • NE Fashion Weekend @Delhi #1 :: Gallery
  • History will not forgive us
  • A girl :: Poem
  • Pre-merger political party struggle
  • JRF wanted at NIT Silchar
  • Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party
  • Welcome to Southern Nagalim greeting
  • March: Mera Houchongba #3:: Gallery
  • Girls Football- Nov 4 #1:: Gallery
  • Taxi- raising Air Pollution in Ukhrul
  • Back to basics to #endTB: Do it right
  • Man with Flower's Life :: Poem
  • Skill development training with MUDA
  • Quiz Competition at NE Festival
  • Free cataract operation at Loktak
  • Traffic control- still a flop show
  • Pui Thangamliu -Photos #1 :: eRang
  • NH7 Weekender [28 October] :: Gallery
  • Surjalal: Fellow of American Physical Society
  • Ithai Barrage for Irrigation: Beautiful Promise
  • NE Festival 2017 starts off
  • The Sun & the Cloud :: Poem
  • Land encroachment at Lamka College
  • Salesian College Grabs UK Project
  • Nagaland CM met Rajnath reg. Naga issue
  • Ranked 5th in women safety: stereotyping?
  • Prime focus
  • Miss Kut #1 :: Gallery
  • Hari Uthan- Kang Chingba #1 :: Gallery
  • Kangujam Chinglensana (Hockey) feted
  • reach the tipping point for childhood TB?
  • A round of applause for N Biren, CM..
  • Link Research with Education for NE
  • Culture is beyond Religion: Najma Heptulla
  • Vacancies @ Chirag Estate, Gurgaon
  • Defection of some party workers : NPCC
  • ST for Meiteis: Final say rests with Delhi
  • Understanding responsibility
  • Chavang Kut @Tengnoupal :: Gallery
  • Sub-Junior Girls Football #2:: Gallery
  • A crusade for a greener Manipur
  • Tourist Guide as career option #2
  • 'Govt working for inclusive development'
  • Namsai gets Buddha relic from Thailand
  • 5th NE Festival at Delhi: Program Schedule
  • 20th Asian Charter for Human Rights: Video
  • National Unity Day at Ukhrul
  • NPF MLA present at all parties meet
  • Of three Ws and Politics
  • Ningol Chak-Kouba @Delhi #1:: Gallery
  • Happy Kut Wishes :: e-pao Flash
  • Let's be racist
  • 3rd Ningol Chakouba, Delhi : A Report
  • Dr. Rahejuddin Sheikh : Best Director Award
  • I Am In You To Feel Myself :: Poem
  • Conference: North East in Globalized Era
  • Seeking contributions : Library Centre
  • RGU Celebrated National Unity Day
  • Run for Unity organized by AR
  • Of traffic chaos and mad rush
  • What if Pan Naga Hoho is final settlement
  • Chothe: Shabu Hong Rein :: Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • IT Employment Devlp Course :: Gallery
  • NH7 Weekender [27 October] :: Gallery
  • Red Light Area in Manipur ?
  • IT Enabled Employment Skill Development
  • Football in India needs encouragement
  • Indo-Naga Peace Process :: Articles
  • Meeting on Hornbill Festival 2017
  • Territorial integrity : No to separate admin
  • A confusing solution, if happens
  • Hazari/ Tombi Polo Tournament #1:: Gallery
  • Candle light for Belinda Morse :: Gallery
  • Hills are Better
  • Wedding :: Poem
  • Candle lighting in memory of Belinda Morse
  • NH7 Weekender: 2nd Day Report : 28 Oct
  • RGU launched Clean and Green Campus
  • Territorial integrity: All party meet sans NPF
  • Exhibition of Pottery Crafts #2 :: Gallery
  • Phayeng Cultural programme :: Gallery
  • Khongjom War Memorial #3 :: 360 ° View
  • Ichangi Laidhi #1 :: eRang
  • Ningol Chakkouba by Paomee:: Gallery
  • Ningol Chakkouba @Kolkata :: Gallery
  • Tourism Day @ Phayeng #1 :: Gallery
  • Ningol Chakkouba @Sikkim :: Gallery
  • Ningol to her mapam lamdam :: Gallery
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2018 : Download it
  • Mera Men Tongba :: Gallery
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Kh Ninthoinganba
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Thounaojam Jeakson
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Nongdamba Naorem
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Dheeraj Moirangthem
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Amarjit Kiyam (Captain)
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Thangjam Boris
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Wangjam Suresh
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Md Shahjahan
  • Featured Photo for 2017 #4 :: Gallery
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic
  • Landscape of Manipur #7: Wallpaper
  • SPONSORED ADS