Kohima, Oct. 1: Naga women’s organisations called October 1 a black day for women and urged people to vote out the ruling Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) in the Assembly elections slated for February.
The organisations today participated in statewide rallies called by a joint action committee on women’s reservation under the aegis of the Naga Mothers’ Association to protest against the state’s refusal to reserve 33 per cent seats for women in municipal and town councils.
The Assembly recently passed a resolution exempting Part IX-A of the Constitution stating that it goes against Article 371-A of the Constitution, which stated that no act of Parliament can infringe on the customary and traditional practices of Naga people.
There were, however, no such rallies in five districts, as Ao Senden in Mokokchung district and Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO) in Kiphire, Mon, Longleng and Tuensang districts had banned the protest.
The women’s organisations have strongly criticised this move by organisations like Ao Senden and ENPO.
The protesters today asserted that women’s rights are human rights and they should be treated as equal citizens of the land.
They demanded a space for women in decision-making. The women’s organisations argued that reserving seats for women does not violate Article 371-A. And since 1980, the state government has reserved a quarter of seats in village development boards and a quarter of the board’s funds for women.
The protesters marched to Raj Bhavan and submitted a memorandum urging the governor’s intervention in the matter. The memorandum stated that to claim that 33 per cent reservation for women in municipal and town councils or urban governance infringes on social practice or customary law is absurd.
The Naga Mothers’ Association demanded a special Assembly session to withdraw the rejection to safeguard the constitutional rights of women in the state.
Rosemary Dzuvichu, co-convener of the action committee and adviser to the mother’s association, said if neighbouring states like Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh have implemented reservation for women, then Nagaland can do it as well.
She said they have filed a petition challenging the decision today in the Supreme Court. The Naga mothers also urged the governor to condemn the decision of the Assembly.
“It is not only a black day for Naga women but will go down in Naga history as the darkest period of violence against women,” Rosemary said.
He expressed the hope that the governor would respect conventions and provisions enshrined in the international charter of human rights, convention of elimination of discrimination against women and other mechanism recognised for the empowerment of women.
She said the 60 Naga lawmakers — both from the ruling and Opposition parties — have pushed Naga women back into the dark ages instead of taking them forward.
“We have a right to be a part of every decision-making body,” she said and termed the decision of Nagaland Assembly as shameful and an underestimation of Naga women.
Chairperson of Nagaland Women’s Commission Sano Vamuzo said Naga women were striving for a better society and urged women not to be disheartened.
Rallies were taken out in Zunheboto, Dimapur, Peren, Phek and Wokha districts and in several sub-divisions.