Born and brought up in Mokokchung, Nagaland, Ayangla Toko graduated in English (Hons), Masters in Political Science from D.U. During her eight (8) years in AIR, as being associated with AIR (MKG) from the time she was doing her Master’s in Delhi, she introduced many new programmes and had the opportunity to interact and to hold panel discussion with many prominent personalities on topic ranging from women’s issues, customary laws, gender inequality, education etc by bringing awareness not only to the women but also to the general public. Married to an Arunachalee and blessed with three kids, she presently is working in Civil Secretariat, Itanagar. Life has been blissfully busy for her as a mother, working woman and as an Entrepreneur’s wife, the proprietor of E&K’s group, a local start-up and the first professional caterer in the State.
Under E&K’s they have a chain of Fine dine restaurants and a resort by the name “Passa lath” in Ziro where they had the privilege to host many prominent public figures.
Feeling the need to introduce the local cuisine to the visiting dignitaries as part of showcasing the culture through food, “Tribal Hut”, the first local fine dine came into being. Since then, it has been a favourite with both the visiting dignitaries and the esteem local guests.
When it comes to private sector in Arunachal, Ayangla could be the first and maybe the only one to have introduced paid maternity leave so as to make the woman folk more financially independent and also paternity leave to make the husband’s more involved to nurture the children. Education has always been an area that she had been very passionate about and that she tries to encourage and help financially when required. At present E&K’s has got more than 150employees
Give us your opinion on this year UN (United Nation) March 08 International women’s day 2020 theme- “ I am generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights”
We know that this year theme is aligned with the UN Women’s New Multigenerational Campaign, Generation Equality, which marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and platform for action. It is a sad reality that, after all these years we are still fighting for Equality, which is impacting, not only here in Northeast but every woman and girl around the globe. UN declaration is an attestation of that grim reality and also for the urgent need to address the same. We should all be doing our bit, in whatever way we can to achieve gender equality and human rights of all women and girls.
What does International women’s day mean to you?
It is a great day to celebrate womanhood and all the great things that we have achieved in different spheres of our lives. It is needed, not only to appreciate and recognize our contributions, sacrifices and success but also to raise awareness about issues that are effecting us, like polygamy, child marriage, property rights, equal representation in particular and gender inequality in general.
What does it mean to be a woman in the part of the world and society you live in?
In our tribal community, though we are treated comparatively better and our voices heard, yet, being a patriarchal society we are still not on equal footing which it comes to representation in traditional tribal council, property rights, marriage, etc. So being a woman in this part of the world is good but not great, if I may say.
What privileges or challenges do we stereotypically and generically face?
To me, being a woman itself is a huge privilege and to be able to give life to another human being is the ultimate honour. But having said that, being a woman has its own challenges, we are blamed for all the misfortune that happened to us, our career/aspiration should be sacrificed if it clashes with our husband’s career. We aren’t to speak our mind. We are to behave and dress in a certain way. The restrictions are never ending. But, amidst all that restrictions, we still manage to go out and achieve more, which is incredible.
Which woman are you inspired by in your local community, and globe?
I’m sure, most of the woman will say that it’s their mother and rightfully so. My mum was a teacher and raised five of us almost all by herself since my dad was posted outside Mokokchung, she was a dedicated mother, teacher, Sunday school teacher and also the president/general secretary of many women’s organizations she was also known for her cooking skills and her flowers and kitchen garden were admired in Mokokchung. From a very young age she has instilled in us that we make our own destiny and should always lend a helping hand, she was also awarded by the Government for her excellent service rendered as a teacher and also by the church as “the best mother”. My mum is my ultimate inspiration.
Globally, there are many women who have done amazing work for empowerment of women from Susan B Anthony to our present day Malala Yousafzai. Their works and sacrifices are impacting around the world.
What are the “women’s theme” that still need greater awareness in your opinion?
Equal right to education, woman’s safety and dignity both at home and work place, domestic violence and abuse- both mentally and physically, equal representation in policy making bodies, property rights are some women’s theme that need to be addressed urgently.
What taboos related to the theme of women do you wish were broken?
That being feminist means you are loud, selfish, crude and do men bashing and also that our live ends the day we get married and have babies are all nonsense.
Which men do you find inspiring that are doing their part for women’s equality?
From the present generation, I would say Barack Obama, former President of America and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are both proud and self-proclaim feminist and are both doing their bit for gender equality.
What woman’s themes are impacting you most greatly in your home or work?
The conventional and the traditional expectation of a woman that we should put our spouse’s career first and our aspiration doesn’t count much irk me.
Whose work do you admire in relation to women’s rights and equality?
It has to be Susan B Anthony. She was involved in the abolitionist movement, eventually became known as the “Napoleon of women’s movement” she and her friend Elizabeth Cady Stanton founded many associations to further the cause of women’s equality and rights. In 1878, she and her friend arranged for congress to be presented with an amendment giving women the right to vote, which would become known as the Anthony Amendment. Her work is very inspiring.
What role or impact would you like to play in relation to women’s rights today?
I strongly feel that, not only girl child but every child should have access to education. I’ve personally seen what education can do to one’s self esteem. You become more aware of your surroundings, the choices become more, it gives you the ability to think and to act more wisely and the chances of being becoming financially independent goes up.
If you could pick a woman from any culture to talk to, which culture would you pick?
Michelle Obama an African American, who has also been a victim of racist, bullying, even after years of assimilation and integration and inspite of having a first black president in America, there are still undercurrent of racism, would like to discuss how they see it and the way forward.
If you could put on a parade for International women’s day, which woman would put on the main float?
Not one but so many women deserves to be on it; the housewives, the single mothers, the survivors, the champions, the activists, the law makers and so on.
At what point in your life were you first aware that not everybody was from where you are from?
Being brought up in a patriarchal society, it was pleasantly surprising to see the Matriarchal setup in Shillong when I landed there for my degree.
Message to the Youths, Readers and Society.
Economic dependence is often the root cause of our present social status which is the result of our prevalent patriarchal social structure. Therefore, my message would be- be financially independent and socially vocal. Let us not be confined to our four walls of our conventional society, let us equip our self and help one another to make our society more gender sensitive and equal in all practical sense.