From Staff Correspondent
Shillong, Nov 22: To have an open discussion and move towards a more egalitarian society within a historical and social context, Martin Luther Christian University organised a two-day semir on “Gender, Sexuality and Society in Tribal Northeast India and their Implications for Tribal Youth” here from Tuesday.
Speaking at the plery session, semir’s co-convener Patricia Mukhim said, “Gender is society’s way of listing out the role of males and females based on their sex, and we also know that patriarchy has defined that role since women’s voices are hardly captured in literature of any kind except after the rise of feminism in western countries in the 1960s.”
She went on to add, “This semir provides a comfortable platform to voice our opinions and may be resolve conflicts concerning gender issues. But the moment the semir is over, there will be resistance to those ideas. There will be contestations and challenges and we should all be strong enough to withstand those, if we want permanent change.”
Dr RL Hnuni, the first ordained woman pastor of the Baptist Church of Mizoram, spoke about the importance of women in the family, society and church, and yet how women are margilised and discrimited against in the ministry of the church.
Dr Andrew J May, Professor of History at the University of Melbourne, spoke on gender and colonialism in the Khasi Hills, in which he described the strong patriarchal views of the Welsh missiories, and how they were able to exercise a strong influence on indigenous culture and its gender relations.
Dr Melvil Pereira, Director of the North Eastern Social Research Centre, Guwahati, spoke about the existing tension between tribal customary laws and women’s rights in the Northeast, and that codification of the customary laws must include more equal roles for women.
A session on women’s health included a presentation on women’s decision-making roles by Dr Sandra Albert, Director of Indian Institute of Public Health, Shillong.
The session included talks on women’s mental health by Melissa Kyndiah and on women traditiol healers by Mayfereen Ryntathiang.