The Telegraph
Thursday , February 21 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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The crusader on a new battle

Dimapur, Feb. 20: She has battled odds for 30 years and now Abieu Meru, president of the Naga Mothers’ Association, is fighting to create a new generation of empowered women. For she believes in the importance of passing the baton as the work should go on and the reach expand.

Over the past 29 years, the Naga Mothers’ Association has fought epidemic drug addiction and other viruses that were gnawing at Naga society. Now, their battle is for women. For their rights, and potential, and representation. The story of which Meru, who started her life as a stenographer in a government office, narrates.

“In the 1980’s, there was no women’s participation in social organisations in the state outside the church though there was no restriction as such. During this time, drug addiction was plaguing the state. So, some of us women from different walks of life got together and decided that something must be done.”

The journey that began with a meeting took them to other women leaders in churches across the state. They returned to Kohima with a sense of purpose and to call a meeting, which met with an overwhelming response and entailed the formation of the Naga Mothers’ Association.

“We called ourselves mothers because this name is apt for a woman here even if she has not borne a child. In Naga society, an aunt or an elder sister also has the same position as a mother. So, a girl, as she grows up, is already a mother,” she said.

Over the past few months, they have been on a protest path against the government to implement 33 per cent reservation for women in the municipal and town councils.

“It is a testing time for us. The case for reservation of seats for women in the state has made us knock the doors of the Supreme Court and we are now shuttling between Nagaland and Delhi for court hearings. I am hopeful of a positive outcome,” she said.

The association has pledged complete support for the two women candidates who have filed their nominations. Rakhila Lakhiumong is contesting on a BJP ticket from 54 Tuensang Sadar-II while Dr Yangerla is an Independent candidate from Mokokchung.

Other political parties, barring the BJP, have failed to put up any women candidate this time.

“Here we are not considering who is contesting on which party ticket. We are extending moral support to any woman candidate irrespective of her party affiliations as we, as a non-political organisation, have been fighting for the implementation of the 33 per cent reservation in municipal and town councils in the state.”

The high-spirited woman said, “We will also campaign for the women candidates in whatever means we can,” and ended on an optimistic note, “There is just too much corruption here. This time we want new wine in a new bottle.”

Nagaland, though, is a dry state.

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