Two women legislators participate in Assembly discussion for first time, appreciate women’s ‘inclusion’ in decision making

Kohima: Customary laws fluid, flexible and our forefathers throughout years adapted to times, Hekani Jakhalu

BY | Tuesday, 12 September, 2023

Two women legislators of the 14th Nagaland Legislative Assembly today made their maiden speech in the ongoing session of the 14th Nagaland Legislative Assembly on the 33 percent women reservation in Urban Local Bodies elections.

Participating in the discussion, Minister for Women Development and Horticulture, Salhoutuonuo Kruse credited the central leaders for framing the policy of 33 percent women reservation. She also thanked the Naga women leaders under the aegis of Naga Mother’s Association for heralding the implementation of the women reservation in the state.

Kruse, further appreciated the Naga menfolk, especially the legislators for ‘agreeing’ that women should be ‘included’ in decision making for progress.

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Appreciating the Women organisations, Advisor Hekani Jakhalu, described the two decades old fight as a strenuous, tedious, and stressful for not only the women leaders but for the entire state and to the people in general, as the women group never gave up but fought it till the end. She also thanked the civil society organisations and the tribal leaders and the government led by the chief minister for beautifully and patiently put forward the issue consensually together through the consultative meeting on 1 September.

Hekani viewed that they all came together for 33 percent reservation not just because of the Supreme Court’s Order that we need to follow but it is the right thing to follow.

She said, Nagas are indigenous community, but added that indigenous communities is not unique to Nagas alone. She quoted the United Nations statistics that about 476 million indigenous people world wide and indigenous people are govern by the customary laws. She maintained that customary law is something that have been governing with our lives through our forefathers.

“Customary laws we understand is not codified, it is not a uniform law, it is something that is fluid, flexible and our forefathers throughout the years adapted to times”, Jakhalu added.

She said customary laws has changed with times and this was followed time immemorial and moved on.

Accordingly, the Advisor said, not giving right to women in the decision making body is against the universal Human Rights, and against equality and that this has been faced by the indigenous communities all over the world.

She said, there is always a struggle between universal human rights versus cultural realitivism. Maintaining that cultural has two sides in human rights aspect, Jakhalu said, it can be a reason of human rights violations, but also it can protect human rights.

There are many practices and norms in the society that discriminate against women and it is justified by culture, religion and tradition, she added.

To this, she said, the United Nations guaranteed that all forms of discrimination against women should be taken as a national effort and that a state should maintain gender equality and take all appropriate measures including legislation to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices which constitutes discrimination against women.

The Advisor further questioned that if Naga women were never allowed to take part in the customary institution of decision making then, this alone is a sufficient reason to give reservation. She also said, women have been deprived for participation in the decision making body, despite women may have advanced in many unrestricted fields. Hekani Jakhalu however said this has not been able to overcome the perpetual denial of the women’s right to participate in decision making body and hence reservation is the only reasonable means to help the women to participate as of today.

She also said, women reservation is a constitutional obligation under Article 243T of the Constitution of India and the very creation of the state and all other cherished right being enjoyed are derived from the same constitution and that the circumstances of the Naga women as explained squarely makes the Article 243T applicable to the state of Nagaland.

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