Why property rights for women rile up men in ‘progressive’ Northeast

It is not about tribal women marrying non-tribal men but about the inability to accept that women will acquire property, have economic rights | Photo - iStock

Women climbing steep slopes, lugging harvest or wood in bamboo baskets suspended from a strap placed over the forehead, is a common sight in the countryside of Northeast India.

Another striking feature that is difficult to miss while visiting the region is the dominating presence of women vendors selling fresh produce harvested from their farms in markets—both in rural and urban centres.

In fact, an important tourist attraction in Imphal, the capital of Manipur, is its Ima Keithel, literally meaning mother’s market. It is an over 500-year-old market run and managed entirely by women.

Women also strongly compete in terms of numbers with their male counterparts in white-collar jobs, giving an impression that the women-leap (leadership, empowerment, access and protection) is a reality in the region.

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