New Delhi: Naga activists and scholars today favoured changes in the state’s male-dominated society saying it barred women from inheritance, land rights as well as political equality.

“We are now fighting for our constitutional rights of representation and reservation by going to the Supreme Court,” associate professor at Nagaland University Rosemary Dzuvichu said at a conference on ‘The Eastern Himalaya: Gender, Poverty and Livelihoods’ here.

While acknowledging that there were some positive developments, Dzuvichu said the Nagaland government was yet to implement its commitment to reserve 33 per cent of elected posts in municipal bodies for women.

Founder-editor of Nagaland Page Monalisa Changkija said the “second-classness” of Naga women and male-stream customary laws have restricted the women in Naga society.

Challenging the romantic popular concept of Naga and other tribal women being more equal than other Indian women, Changkija, who is also a poet, said Naga women were “better educated, more mobile and more visible but that does not protect them from customary law”.

The sessions also saw scientists, engineers, activists and civil society organisers speaking on the Uttarakhand deluge of 2013 and the grim lessons it held for the northeastern states.

Mindless “development, insensitivity to forest and mountain ecosystems and laying of infrastructure expanding dams and roads and poor governance were responsible”, they said.

Traditional building structures of wood and stone were being replaced by concrete buildings with state support without caring for safety.

“Dams were buried under sediment,” said Ravi Chopra of the Peoples’ Science Institute in Dehradun.

The conference was organised by the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research at Jamia Millia Islamia.

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