Manipuri women in the arena of politics


Ashem Regina
Even one of the greatest Greek philosophers Aristotle excluded women as a citizen during his time. The famous John Rawls Theory of Justice gave cognizance to men who came together and agreed to accept the principles of justice, thereby leaving women out. The Manusmriti writes, ‘A girl, a young woman or even an old woman should not do anything independently, even in (her own) house. In childhood a woman should be under her father’s control, in youth under her husband’s and when her husband is dead, under her sons’.
Kabir, one of the mystic poets of this land who had fought to bring spirituality, intellect and self actualization prescribe a different path for men and women. The Bhakti movement became a movement for democratization of religion. However, there existed a negative outlook for the female. His verses expressed, ‘Kabir says many have been ruined due to the love for women. Many more will go to the hell laughing all the way through’, ‘A snake has two hoods, a woman has twenty hoods, if she stings one, there is no chance to survive’. Such social outlook on women made them stay far away from the arena of politics.
On the other hand there exist Plato who is also regarded as a feminist, that they are not inferior to man in physical strength but also in intelligence and skill, John Locke also validated that women were rational and had a high level of intellectual capacity. Also, Gandhiji asserted ‘Woman as the noble sex, if she is weak in striking, she is strong in suffering’ while Bose also actively encouraged and strived to engage more women in meaningful roles in the political arena. India had also witnessed the strong presence of Indira Gandhi in politics, the role of Savitri Bhai Phule in Indian education, the representation of India by Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit in the United Nations General Assembly and so on and on and on.  The line of thread would not end if I continue writing in this specific area.  
Enough! I know what you’re thinking… enough of the above demonstrations of positions of the women in political sphere from the Greek city State to the Indian society now let’s come to our Kangleipak Sanaleibak Manipur!!
The strong hold of the women in the arena of politics starting from our queen Leima Laisana had established the ‘Pacha Loishang’ (women’s court) to protect the women’s rights, privelleges, rights against immoral trafficking and other women related issues. Record exists of Maharani Kumudini’s involvement in the political affairs of the State.
Rani Gaidinliu’s revolt against the British rule was not less than the other famous figures of the freedom fighters. The Ima’s protest and involvement in the 1st Nupi Lan of Manipur 1904, 2nd Nupi Lan of Manipur 1939, the demand for the Statehood, protest against AFSPA and to the present day show that we are active in the social and political movement and in safeguarding the integrity of the State.
The reason why I penned down this article is that there is a need of bringing up such attention to the women of our State to do an introspection regarding their stand in the arena of politics (ie, State politics, National politics, World politics). Won’t it be wrong blaming the political representatives of not acting like this or that or for keeping mum or dozing off during the sessions of the State Assembly while forgetting the fact that it is the people who sent them as leaders, who gave them the Constitutional power for framing laws, who gave them the platform to be accountable to us to the citizen.
That’s right we are responsible for taking such step ie, to elect the right candidate irrespective of having such thoughts like, ‘ehh handak ti ei echanupa gi thabak ki peisa pisin gi banina ei masi candidate sida vote pidaba yade magi damak ei vote chen daba yade nttra badi ei khak mangja hwgani, tung mang yengba yade mana Kendra sigi khunai sigi kari afaba fattaba twgra bage hybadi khallaroi ei…’
So why I pointed out women when everyone is aware of the fact that for making a society the responsibility and the duties of a citizen equates to both male and female ... the reason is that most of the time we women are considered and are used as a vote bank by the other gender, it is very few that women of little percentage voted independently of their own choice. Where our Imas who had been politically and socially very active in the socio-political movement of State tend to revert around when it comes to electoral politics. Point is we women should not be a means to an end but the end itself.
Why not we become politically educated politically aware of the facts of why our society is moving backward and not upward. Being a women political representative does not mean to come out and wish only on ningol chakkouba day nor addressing some sanitary pads at the relief camp, or expressing that I would do my best for the nupi khunai when u get elected but it is to come out and fight against the system that hampers the growth of women with political means be it making laws and policies regarding like giving a livelihood for the women in the relief camp or so. Far till today it is very unfortunate that we haven’t witnessed any strong Women political leader who stands out for us by being a political leader at the Assembly hall or at the parliament.
Warak ki philosopher amagi wakhal sina tattana hangli karigumba eikhoina  vote thadharam daida eigi echa gi thabak peisa pisin gibanina magonda vote pidaba yade hyna khanbagi mahut ta leiriba amotpa samaj ase eikhoi dagi houna semdok labadi ngashi gi Ema Manipur gi maithongda chotliba pirang se teithok pa ngambagi pangal ado khra da oirabasu leigani hyna. Makha tanna warak ki philosopher aduna fongdokli ema Manipur na yaiphare na lao riba asibu eikhoi sibu tasengna thamoi senglabra? Wakhal ase khanna khanna tungda emaleibak ki damak katchagraba thawai kayada noknaba pigumsi haina warak ki philosopher adu tu chungba faogi amadi amuk kasu ngangli warak ki philosopher na,,,
Pari emom samu pangal ba sha Napam lamdam khambi meihoure                                                                                                                                                                                                            Chaklakle meirise Laona Khong na                                                                                                                                                      Khomlem mikup thoklone                                                                                                                                                                     Khambi Meikal Hourone
The lyrics of this song hits us hard and stimulates a strong sense of nationalism and patriotism, I just pray that such essence of the song would not fade away with the evolution of time .. You may consider me an idealist or a realist the choice is yours but someday I wished to hear the voice from our youth’s when our HSLC and COHSEM exam result got declared that when I grow up I want to become an MP or an MLA or the 1st Woman Chief Minister of Manipur and see what I can do and perhaps most importantly the example that I will set for our society as it is the political leadership and the political representation that will governed this society.