The status of women in Northeast India has always been better than that of women in other parts of India. As the economic power lies with women in the sister states, they are also more active in the public sphere and independent when it comes to making economic decisions. Every now and then, the region produces some remarkable women who have been or are pioneers in diverse fields. They are not only breaking barriers but are also setting examples for people from the ‘mainland’ that typically sideline people from this region because of their race. Here are a few amazing women, whose strength and valor is inspiring to many:
Binalakshmi Nepram: She is a humanitarian, author, and female activist for the advocacy of gender rights and women-led disarmament movements with the objective of arresting gun culture and bringing about peace for her home state of Manipur in particular and northeast India in general. For her contributions in this field to Manipur and northeast India she is known by the epithet “The Face & Voice of North East”. Nepram has established many institutions such as the Control Arm Foundation of India (CAFI) in 2004, Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network (MWGSN), Manipur, and Secretary General Control Arms Foundation of India (CAFI). On the disarmament issue she opines, “You cannot shoot an unarmed person. This goes for both the State and non State actors… nonviolence will win at the end.” Forbes named Nepram as one of its “24 Young Minds to Watch out for in 2015”, and the Action on Armed Violence of London listed her among the top 100 influential people in the world actively pursuing a reduction in armed violence She is an author and a civil rights activist from Manipur. In 2004, she co-founded Control Arms Foundation of India, India’s first civil society organization which is working on conventional disarmament issues. She has been the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions.
Aparajita Rai: When Aparajita Rai faced troubles after her father’s death, she decided to become a public servant and make sure that people’s problems are heard and responded to. After many years of hard work and dedication, she created history by becoming Sikkim’s first female IPS officer. She became the first female IPS from the North East (Sikkim). 28 year old Aparajita is an inspiration for many in the region who still consider basic government jobs as the be all and end all of their capacities. A lawyer by education, she was also the state topper for the region’s ISC examinations and has won various awards for outdoor probation and field combat, and is currently posted in the Hoogly district of West Bengal.
Hasina Kharbibh: A social entrepreneur from Meghalaya, Hasina Kharbhih has spent the better part of her life working for human rights. She started a nonprofit, Impulse, and developed a comprehensive strategy to prevent child trafficking called the Meghalaya Model, which is being applied in eight Indian states. The activist, who is based in Shillong in the northeastern state of Meghalaya, received a North East Excellence Award from the Indian Chamber of Commerce in the year 2012. The award honored her service in the field of human rights and trafficking, HIV and AIDS intervention, and for providing livelihood support for individuals in the rural areas of the northeast.
Bano Haralu: A pioneering television journalist, who has worked tirelessly for conservation in Nagaland. She formed the Nagaland Wildlife Biodiversity Conservation Trust in the year 2013. In October 2012, the journalist turned conservationist led a small group of preservationists, including colleague Rokohebi Kuotsu, Shashank Dalvi (a research associate at Bengaluru’s Centre for Wildlife Studies), and Ramki Sreenivasan of Conservation India, to the Doyang Reservoir to check whether the rumour of large-scale hunting of birds was true. Bano persuaded a wide range of stakeholders – from ministers and senior bureaucrats to key people in the local community who were engaged in hunting – to act promptly and bring an immediate ban on the hunting of Amur falcons in the state. In 2013, the village councils of Pangti, Ashaa and Sungro signed a declaration making hunting of Amur falcons illegal and punishable, which helped in reaching a zero mortality rate by the end of the birds’ roosting period. Haralu’s perseverance and the concerted effort of the Nagaland government, as well as that of the local communities, paid off. In a spectacular turnaround, in just one year, the mass hunting of Amur falcons in Nagaland had been almost completely stopped.