A study of Women among Sumi Community of Nagaland - Page 6Discussion
Women all over the world have embraced the environmental problems and are among the most ardent activists for protecting the earth systems and the lives of the inhabitants in it (Filomina Chioma Steady, 1998).
From Greenbelt movement of Kenya (women initiate and promote afforestation) to Chipko movement of India (women protested against illegal cutting of trees) to Pacific Region (where women protested against nuclear testing) to Philippine movement (Filipino women halting the building of environmentally threatening dam) to South America (Guyanese women initiating a biogas program to save fuel) etc. all these represents the contribution of women in the environmental fronts dedicated to the continuation of life on earth.
Accordingly, in the present work an attempt was made to connect the movement of local women to promote organic farming against land degradation and other environmental conditions with the ecofeminist perspective in the background of patriarchal social order.
The present study is in sync with many other existing literature and scholarly research studies. Many researches, organization, platforms at both national and international level have addressed the dynamic role of women in the management of natural resources. A number of contemporary researches (Nath, 2013; Kshatriya & Mitra, 2013; Dem, 1993; Loots &
Witt, 2005) etc have discussed on the active contribution of women in maintaining sustainability of resources with her power to create, nurture and transform.
These studies also bring into picture the constraints of gender inequality in policy, ownership of assets and decision-making in environment development and welfare and stressed for inclusion of women in decision making to enhance greater, if not sustainability. In sync with the present study, many existing studies (Filomina Chioma Steady, 1998; Susan Buckingham, 2002; Mary AA, 2005; Janet Brand, 1996; Pottier Johan, 1999) etc opined that in-order to achieved sustainable development, women indigenous knowledge should be incorporated and gender parity be attained in policy and decision-making as women are more likely to have better knowledge and perhaps, a close affinity with the environment (Earth Summit, 1992).
Many ecofeminist discourses ( works of Gwen Kirk, 1997; Bina Agarwal, 1992; Gunnel Cedarlof, 2004; Susan H,2004) etc confront gender disparity and articulates women as the active agents or the driving force of environmental movement. Some ecofeminist argues that due to their intrinsic connection they become the ultimate victim of environmental crisis and disfavors the western technologies in favor of women’s indigenous knowledge that ensure sustainability. In sync with the present study, some studies also bring us to an understanding of how development programmes directly impacts women and increased their labor and therefore stressed the urgency of gender mainstreaming and inclusion of women’s voice in decision making which otherwise from women point of view, it can be argued that all development is ignorant of women’s needs, often anti-women, literally designed to increase their work burden (Anil Agarwal
(1986), in Guha’s 1994).
Given a chance, women would procreate whatever be given to them had they given equal opportunity in terms of resources, decision making and social
spaces etc. Gender fair policy and programmes emerged as the crucial need of the hour coupled with recognition of their knowledge and contribution aimed to achieve greater if not,
complete sustainable development.
The present study was a small attempt to understand the role of women in the context of environment and their contribution to sustainable development. This study further confirms and validates existing studies in terms of gender inequality in policy making, environmental crisis, indigenous knowledge of women, and their intrinsic connection which brings about new ecological paradigm. Jhum cultivation, deforestation, new developments, population pressures, food demand, etc contributes to increasing issue of land degradation.
With proper management in terms of forest land, incorporation of indigenous knowledge and innovative agricultural practices of organic farming, these problems is found to be moderate.
However, if human’s voracity of utilizing resources continues to grow at the present rate then the outcome shall be grave for humanity to bear.
Recognition of women’s work and inclusion of their voice in policy and decision-making on natural resource management emerged as the crucial need of the hour for the betterment of all life on earth. Existing custom in the form of patriarchal society is also needed to overthrow its harsh biasness and promote gender parity in terms of recognition of women’s right over land and property ownership. Economic independence of women also emerged as important agency to empower them in speech and action and to assert their rightful position in the affairs of the village or the society.
It is found that when women are empowered economically, they utilize the hard earned money for the human development such as quality education, nutrition, healthcare, medicines, and a scope of improvement for themselves. Therefore, in sync with the existing literature
and emerging researches, the present work concludes on a positive note by acknowledging women’s inherent role as a nurturer and promoter of environment sustainability and
demands the urgency of gender fair development in favor of sustainable development.
Reflexivity of self as young feminist scholar
Conducting fieldwork in my community did not affect me much in terms of familiarity because I chose the field site of a village which was alien to me rather than my ancestral village.
Moreover, as a true socio-cultural anthropologist I have imbibe a greater lot of cultural relativism that allows me to respect and regards every other culture, tradition and customs and this
leaves me no room to nurture prejudices against other culture nor any favoritism of my own culture.
As a feminist, growing up unconsciously in my community headed by male oriented ideology and supremacy I could relate myself to the plight of women which helped me in obtaining their narratives of daily lives, struggles, and anguish at the hands of patriarch. Relating myself to their situation also gained me insights into the sensitive issues like income, gender relations within as well as outside the household, social evils and conflicts of the village, recent growth and development of their work and position, and many others.
However, I faced some sort of resistance from some male elders in the village because my topic was somehow in critic of the patriarchal setting. Other than this the fieldwork enriched me with life-long experiences and a will to continue the struggle more rigorously.
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