A Study of Women among Sumi Community of Nagaland - Page 5
Table 2. Significance of the New Ecological Paradigm
In the context of the present study, sexual division of labor perpetuated by the patriarchal setting push women to become the ultimate victim of the environment degradation. Having no
control and power over land and property ownership contributes to their plight. The destruction of the environment clearly poses grievous threat to the marginalized population of the world who are heavily dependent on their immediate environment for their survival, but with the maximum impact of the destruction of natural resources on women. (Anil Agarwal, in Guha’s 1994). As the environment degrades, their survival needs becomes increasingly difficult to collect and
women have to invest extra ordinary amount of time foraging for fodder, fuel, vegetation, water besides her usual activities as house-keeper, caretaker, agricultural works and animal husbandry.
Agro-pastoralism as their mainstay, every activity is connected to the forest or the natural resources and therefore women face dire consequences of environment degradation
especially with regard to water, fodder, fuel, and food security.
In the field area, the recent years witness the development of highway road initiated by the male folk to connect the village to other neighboring villages, nearby towns and other part of the state had cut off all the water pipes which were connected to almost every house in the village. The source of water connection was derived from a natural water sources from the mountains which was fresh and plentiful. But after the water pipes were cut off in the construction process they had no other source but to wholly depend on rain water for household needs. Big plastic tanks are installed to store the rain water for dry season but the village has not developed in terms of rain water harvesting which pose a big challenge for women in absence of rain. The stored water remains hardly sufficient for a household of 7 to 10 members. Women had to
walk a long distance of 3-4 km down the vertical slopes to reach the stone caves to collect water for household needs.
Development programme without inclusion of women’s opinion coupled with environmental crisis puts extra burden on women weakening their health conditions in the process.
Pig rearing emerges as one good source of economy and nutrition of the local. Every occasion, festivals or cultural celebration ends with a grand feast with pig meat occupying the central place at the table. It also has ritual or cultural significance of reinforcing social solidarity in times of celebration and festival; an act to rekindle old relationship or an act to initiate new relationship over eating. Considering its importance and significance, pigs are reared in large numbers in every household for their own use as well as for commercial purposes. Generally looked after by women folk although man do give a hand at times in handling feed or cleaning but the greater part of the work falls on women such as collecting fodder from deep jungles, cooking, cleaning pig sty, bathing the pigs, feeding etc. Ensuring fodder is not an easy job for women because they have to careful in identifying edible plants or choosing the kind of vegetations that enhances the growth of pigs while man generally have no knowledge of fodder exception
of few common ones.
On normal days women spend about 3 to 4 hours a day in foraging for fodder alone which they have become accustomed to. But in times of scarcity of vegetation especially during the autumn season when green vegetation dries out, women foraged deep into the jungles with their mid day meals in search of fodder increasing their foraging time to 6 to 8 hours a day. With the good source of income it generates, pig rearing has become rampant even among affluent household which has resulted in severe competition over fodder, space and boundary. As a result, poor women from farming household without lands are pushed to the wall as they are stopped even from collecting edible weeds in other’s field which was previously possible.
Deforestation also leads to diminishing of vegetation that was once plentiful and healthy. Irony of this situation is that although women work to their bones to look after the animals but the finances regarding the transaction of selling of pigs are handled by the men folk. The penetration of modern forces coupled with cash economy is affecting the relationship between men and women as while men have become more involved with the cash economy, women continue to deal with the non-monetized, subsistence based economy of the household. (Anil Agarwal, in Guha’s 1994).
Days after days, the routine repeat itself, women continue to work extra hours throughout the week except on Sunday, else their fuel and fodder collection time increases. Firewood meant still more work and another tiring journey. When women collect firewood they only go for dried branches which had fallen off and so trees are hardly deforested for their use. Yet they continue to face constraints in the face of private ownership of land where entry even to collect dry twigs are denied.
Shifting cultivation, deforestation, concept of private property and other environmental conditions in addition to sexual division of labor which expects women to ensure these essential needs creates greater hardships in their day to day lives. As a result there is no scope of improvement, recreation and self-maintenance in terms of nutrition, healthcare, etc and many women opined that stretching, bending, walking over the long distance, and foraging hills and mountains has resulted in the acute body ache, swelling and pain in the knee joint, back ache etc which never seems to get better because even if they take a day off, they have to resume it the next day and undergo the same process as such one woman add that ‘there is hardly any time for hospital or healthcare, and for that we have to go out of village which is time consuming as well as travelling requires finance, and moreover these body pain are often overlooked, we have other major problem in life’.
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