Mizo women’s big fight for po­lit­i­cal space

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - NATION MYINDIAMYVOTE - Ut­pal Parashar ut­pal.parashar@htlive.com

Women are ac­tive in every sphere... but their main role is still seen as that of home­mak­ers. Pol­i­tics is not seen as a clean ca­reer op­tion LALRINTLUANGI, ZPM can­di­date

AIZAWL: In Mi­zo­ram’s cap­i­tal, women are ev­ery­where.

They are driv­ing cars and scoot­ers, run­ning small road­side shops and big busi­nesses, man­ag­ing the show in ho­tels and restau­rants, play­ing im­por­tant roles in govern­ment and pri­vate of­fices, com­bin­ing their ca­reers with their tra­di­tional role of a home­maker.but if there’s one area where their pres­ence is neg­li­gi­ble, it’s in the state’s big­gest de­ci­sion mak­ing body, the leg­isla­tive assem­bly.

Among the 40 elected leg­is­la­tors who take cru­cial de­ci­sions on shap­ing the state’s fu­ture, only one is a woman.

As Mi­zo­ram goes to polls one more time on November 28, the sce­nario isn’t likely to change much. The rul­ing Congress has given an elec­tion ticket to just one woman, Van­lalawm­puii Chawngthu, the lone woman in the assem­bly who is also a min­is­ter. Mizo Na­tional Front (MNF), the state’s main re­gional party, with which the Congress is locked in a direct fight for power, hasn’t in­cluded any woman in its list of can­di­dates. Zo­ram Peo­ple’s Move­ment (ZPM), a new re­gional out­fit, has two women in its list. The only ex­cep­tion is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has fielded six women can­di­dates. But since the party isn’t a ma­jor player in the Chris­tian-ma­jor­ity state, it re­mains to be seen how many of them are able to emerge win­ners. “Mi­zos are a male-dom­i­nated so­ci­ety and women aren’t usu­ally part of the de­ci­sion mak­ing process. But I never felt any less than a man, and hence I de­cided to en­ter pol­i­tics,” said prom­i­nent busi­ness­woman Judy Zohmin­gliani, who joined BJP last year, and is the party’s can­di­date for the Tuiv­awl seat.

This is Zohmin­glianni’s sec­ond shot at pol­i­tics. The 62-yearold was an ac­tive mem­ber of Congress nearly three decades ago, but left the party and pol­i­tics and fo­cused on busi­ness, be­cause she felt women in Mi­zo­ram don’t have much of a chance in ris­ing up the po­lit­i­cal lad­der.

Mi­zo­ram was de­clared a state in 1972. But in its 46-year his­tory, only four women have won elec­tion the assem­bly. That’s the worst record for a state in the coun­try af­ter Na­ga­land, an­other state in the north­east, which has failed to elect a woman MLA till date. “Women are ac­tive in every sphere in Mi­zo­ram, but their pri­mary role is still seen as that of home­mak­ers.

Pol­i­tics is not seen as a clean ca­reer op­tion,” said Lalrintluangi, a 62-year-old re­tired govern­ment official, con­test­ing from Dampa on a ZPM ticket.

The state’s largest women’s or­gan­i­sa­tion, Mizo Hme­ichhe In­suihkhawn Pawl (Mizo Women Wel­fare Fed­er­a­tion), which has branches all over the state and has over 285,000 mem­bers, is try­ing to change that. “We want more women in pol­i­tics and de­ci­sion-mak­ing bod­ies. That’s why we have urged our mem­bers to vote for women can­di­dates, ir­re­spec­tive of their party af­fil­i­a­tions,” said MHIP’S gen­eral sec­re­tary T Lalthang­puii.

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