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  India   All India  06 Nov 2017  Women’s empowerment: A long way to go in Ladakh

Women’s empowerment: A long way to go in Ladakh

Published : Nov 6, 2017, 4:12 am IST
Updated : Nov 6, 2017, 4:12 am IST

Women face discrimination when it comes to decision making and taking up entrepreneurship.

Plight of Ladakhi women
 Plight of Ladakhi women

Leh, Ladakh: “I have grown up hearing that the situation in Ladakh is not as bad as it is in the hinterland for women. Where and what are we relating Ladakhi women’s situation to? Is it justified to say that women in Ladakh are enjoying liberty and equality only because we are not burnt for dowry or killed in the foetus,” said Thinles Chorol, founder and senior guide, Ladakh’s Women Travel Agent (LWTA), Leh and recipient of the Sanjoy Ghose Ladakh Women Writers Award 2008-09 from Charkha Development Communication Network — a Delhi-based NGO that works towards the social and economic inclusion of marginalised communities in remote and conflict areas through the creative use of media. Many of these areas are highly inaccessible and socially, economically and politically unstable.

The situation is graver at the ground than we actually thought it was. Women face discrimination when it comes to decision making and taking up entrepreneurship. Generally women are not given a share in their father’s or husband’s property. There are many divorce cases where women after 10-15 years of marriage are left alone to look after the children; the situation becomes worse when she doesn’t have a self-sustaining income and doesn’t own a property.

“The highest governing body of Leh does not have any considerable women representation,” says Rinchen Lamo, councillor, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh. She adds: “Out of the 30 seats in LAHDC there are only two women representations. Since its inception in 1995 we have developed on various fronts, but women-related issues couldn’t find a place therein. Even the basic amenities for women are lacking, like a separate women’s cell, toilets in public places for women, working women’s hostels, etc.” With the help of some other enthusiastic women, she is working to get these issues noticed by policymakers and is waiting for result-oriented actions soon from the concerned authorities.

Ms Lamo further adds: “It has been only two months for me in the Hill Council but I am putting in my best efforts to get reservation for women in LAHDC — if not equally at least 33 per cent — that is my top priority. If women will enter politics they can understand the concern of women better and will definitely encourage other women to understand the importance of being a part of decision- and policy-making. The other issue that I stirred in the Hill Council is related to women security and I hope that the executives and other members will definitely understand and make this dream a reality. I need women of different walks to come on to one platform and work together for the empowerment of women.”

“Even at the village level there are a very few women representations in the decision- and policy-making, like the sarpanch in the panchayat. We have 93 Panchayat Halqa in Leh district. Though women are working as panchs shoulder-to-shoulder in every village with men, the decision-making power lies with men. The work load is always on women whether it is in the family or in the village,” says Deachen Angmo, a 35-year-old panch of the Chuchot Gongma-2 Halqa of Chuchot village. She adds: “Women have to attend to their family 24x7 — household chores, raising children, social or community gatherings, etc. Men never share these works. We do a lot of work for the village too, mostly road construction and various other developmental activities. When it comes to decision-making, yes we take part in the discussions, but if there is a conflict of interest then in most cases the males dominate.”

Tsering Dolma, 62, of Tashi Gatsal Halqa of the Choklamsar village says: “We have to organise meetings of Gram Sabha and take part actively in all the tedious works of the panchayat, but we don’t have any say when it comes to taking decisions. We are sharing the physical work load which is tougher, so why don’t we enjoy the right to take decisions?”

President, Women Alliance Leh, Murup Dolma says: “Women are nowhere in politics in Ladakh. There are a few who fought elections but they never won it, the public is reluctant to choose women as decision- and policy-makers. We raised this issue sometime back but nobody took it seriously and we could not follow it up because of lack of support from various stakeholders. We should all come together on one platform to get women in policy- and decision-making positions.”

Yangchan Dolma, vice-president, Women Alliance, says: “Things are changing in this small town — not for the better, but for the worse. We are now working on dowry and marriage-related problems in Leh — something never witnessed in the history of Ladakh. The solution for the problem lies in empowering women. A woman will always have a say in decision-making only if she is financially independent. We help women know there potential by providing training for them in various skills like cooking, weaving, knitting, etc. Such kind of skill-building workshops also opens up the village women when they interact with others. So we try to focus on skill development and entrepreneurship.”

Oztsal Wangdus, president, District Bar Association, Leh has a different view on the issue. He feels that women need to understand their potential first, help each other and work towards one goal together. He says: “Women don’t come forward to fight elections; it may be because women are seen differently if they do out-of-the-box work. Women need to change the way they think and the way they show their concern about society, and then only there will be a change. Nobody can fight on behalf of them; they have to be the warriors. Funds allocated for women in the council fund should be strictly used to empower women, but that hardly happens.” He showed his concern that women are not working as a team to get their rights, remembering a recent incident he says: “There were three women groups celebrating International Women’s Day at three different venues, these groups should come together on one platform after all they are all working for the same cause.”

Thinles Chorol sums it all up very well, saying: “Women need to rethink their roles in society. They need to be concerned about inner beauty rather than outer beauty. They need to think what they are going to leave behind for the coming generations.”

Being a successful entrepreneur herself she feels that “self-help is the best help”. She is of the view that being independent will certainly lead to empowerment.
— Charkha Features

Tags: ladakh, women empowerment, ladakhi women