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Guwahati Report

Guwahati Report

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Published by: cafi_communique on Sep 13, 2010
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Second Consultative Conclave of Women from Northeast India
Northeast India Women Initiative for Peace : A framework for action for democracy,
human rights, economic justice and conflict prevention in India’s Northeast region
Manipur Women Gun Survivor Network and Control Arms Foundation of India in collaboration withNorth Eastern Social Research Centre (NESRC) Guwahati, Assam
7August, 2010, Conference Room 4I3, Bosco Reach Out, Bholanath Mandir Lane, B K Kakoti Road,Ulubari, Guwahati, Assam.
On 7
August 2010, Control Arms Foundation of India in association with Manipur Women GunSurvivor Network and the North Eastern Social Research Centre (NEWSRC) conducted the secondconsultative conclave of the Northeast India Women Intiative for Peace. It was organized as a framework
for action for democracy, human rights, economic justice and conflict prevention in India‟s Northeast
region.The conference was held in the capital city of Assam, Guwahati and was attended by about 20personalities from different parts of the Northeast, all of whom share a vested interest in bringing peaceto the region. This conference is the antecedent of a meeting on 13
June 2009 at the India InternationalCenter which was a conclave of women from Northeast India who are based in Delhi.
Objective of the conference:
To educate women in the Northeast about the issues of war, conflict and peaceTo look at measures to bring peace and justice in the region through a greater comprehension ofthe political economy of militarismTo understand the internationally known United Nations Resolutions on women and peace-building such as United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820.To examine all local,national and international plans that have sought to end violence againstwomen and see how northeastern women can use this knowledge and empower themselvesTo draw a blue print for women in Northeast India to conceive an action plan for rebuildingpeace, providing justice and political rights in a society shattered by years of conflict.
List of participants:
Mrs Khesheli Chishi
: Convener, Indigenous Women‟s Forum for Northeast India (IWFNEI)
Mr Subir Bhaumik
: BBC‟s Bureau Chief for East and Northeast India and the border region
sof Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal
Dr. Gita Bharali
: Director of research at the North East Social Research Centre in Guwahati,Assam4.
Mrs. Lourembam Nganbi
: President Apunba Nupi Lup (ANUL), Vice-President ApunbaManipur Kanba Ima Lup (AMKIL) and Secretary of External Affairs of United Committee ofManipur5.
Dr. Rakhee Kalita
: Associate professor in the Department of English in Cotton College,Guwahati, Assam.6.
Dr. Nani Mahanta
: Associate professor in the Department of Political Science in GauhatiUniversity, Guwahati, Assam7.
Ms. Anuradha Dutta
: former professor of peace studies at Omeo Kumar Das Institute ofSocial, Guwahati, Assam8.
Nonibala Narengbam
: Secretary at the Integrated Rural Development Organization atWangjing, Thoubal District in Manipur9.
Ms Reena Mutum
: Coordinator of Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network in Imphal,Manipur10.
Ms. Sreekala MG
: Executive Director at North East Network (NEN)11.
Sumshot Kullar
: Peace and Conflict Resolution in Chandel, Manipur12.
Ms. Athukrwi Jamati
: Working with All Twipra Indigenous & Minority Association(ATIMA) in Tripura13.
Ms Debasmita Ghose
: Advocate of Human Rights Law Network in Guwahati, Assam14.
Miss Elizabeth Imti:
Lecturer, Fazil Ali College in Mokokchung, Nagaland
Proceedings of the ConferenceConclave Session 1: Introduction
The first session of the Second Consultative Conclave of Women from the North East began with anenthusiastic welcome from
Dr. Gita Bharali
, the director of the Research North East Social ResearchCentre based in Guwahati, Assam. She expressed a warm welcome as well as a hope for solidarityamongst all those who were present at the conference. She explained that many groups in the past haddeveloped tools and action plans to confront the insurgency in the region and that this initiative was anexample of such collective effort. A following introduction to the conference was provided by
Ms.Binalakshmi Nepram
, the founder of the Manipur Women Gun-Survivor Network and the Secretary-General of the Control Arms Foundation of India. Ms. Nepram expressed her gratitude for all those whohad arrived and explained her personal motivations behind her work and her determination to succeedto bring peace in the North East of India, especially in her home state Manipur.The inaugural address was presented by
Mr Subir Bhaumik
, the BBC Correspondent for the East andNortheast of India and the border regions of Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. He spoke on
“The need for women in the North East to take initiatives in bringing Peace”. His main argumen
t wasthat women need to come together to form a large movement that would lead to a standing as a social
force which would “accommodate a greater space in peace decisions”. An organization such as the Naga
Mothers Association women is needed for greater institutional representation. He stated that
“Peacemaking does not end with an accord, if accords aren‟t properly implemented, then they aren‟t
effective and ceasefires are irrelevant”. In all, a greater representation of women in monitoring bodies
was essential because the lack of implementation of accords affects women the most.
Mrs Khesheli Chishi
, the Convener for Indigenous Women‟s Forum for Northeast India (IWFNEI)finished the beginning session of the conference with a talk on “From village to negoti
ating table: Women
taking lead and making policy changes for Peace”. She described the role of rural women in the NorthEast as those who “suffer the most bearing the brunt of gun violence”. The women are expected to be the
peacemakers when the men create the conflict and this is an example of a gross lack of responsibility. Theinjustice is especially played out when the woman has been left widowed and alone, and being illiterateand not valued as much as a man, is unable to sustain herself and her children. Therefore, the women,
having suffered psychologically, emotionally and even economically have created women‟s organizations
out of compulsion. She concluded with the thought that encouragement will only come from other
women. Yet “Peace has to come out from within ourselves, otherwise peace will remain elusive”.
 Ms. Nepram then closed the first part of the conference with heartening words: that about three or fourpeople are shot everyday in Manipur but there are also at least three marriages celebrated everyday inManipur.
Consultative Conclave Session II: Listening to each other- Stories of Women and War in NortheastIndia Region
The second session of the conference was chaired by
Ms. Anuradha Dutta
, a former professor of peacestudies at Omeo Kumar Das Institute of Social, Guwahati, Assam. She opened the floor for
Dr. NaniMahanta
: Associate professor in the Department of Political Science in Gauhati University, Guwahati,
Assam. His topic, “Tools of peace making in India‟s Northeast”, focused on th
e role and the effect civilsociety, the majority of the people, can have in the region. Civil society has the influence to preventviolent conflict by pressurizing the government to make armed groups come to accord, monitoring theprocess and reconstructi
on and reconciliation. He called for the creation of “social capital such as trustand association between religious and ethnic and other divisions”. However, important issues still
remain such as the divide between immigrants and indigenous people, intra-group classes and inter-group classes, the border disputes between Assam and Meghalaya and Nagaland (the Greater Nagalandproblem), and the sustained dialogue on ethnic homeland issue, which has led to a widespread identitycrisis amongst all individuals.
Dr. Gita Bharali
, the Director of research at the North East Social Research Centre in Guwahati, Assam,
gave a presentation on the “Impact on Women on Development Induced Displacement and HumanSecurity in Assam”. She first described the fate of rural wo
man and how it is linked to their economic
independence. Rural Assamese women‟s livelihood is purely natural resource based and involves animal
husbandry and agriculture. Therefore, when families are displaced, the woman is most vulnerablebecause jobs in more urban areas require workers with certain skills and very little women are trained oreven literate. What ensues is that women have a lower status, lower income opportunities, little or withno property rights. Therefore the position of women in comparison to men leaves them more susceptibleto being affected by violence in their surroundings.

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