‘Women Hold Up Half The Sky. But Have We Ever Been Allowed To Join The Men At The Negotiating Table?’

In a small office in south Delhi, a little candle burns in the middle of a table. It’s flanked by posters of Irom Sharmila and pamphlets describing the Manipur Gun Survivors Network. A beautifully beaming Binalakshmi Nepram , 38, founder of the network, greets you from behind the posters and papers with a very basic question: why is it that in conflict zones like the Northeast, women are left out of peace talks? It’s a question that immediately brings home a fundamental point about women’s movements in India. That they are not of, by and for women alone. They are about balance. And peace. And perspective. Not a woman’s or a man’s perspective, but a perspective that removes men from the centre of war, peace and politics. A perspective that says correcting the imbalance is just basic humanity. It’s maths. In Manipur, the maths makes victims of women and it’s essentially men that are the perpetrators on both sides — the armed forces and the insurgents. Beena tells Revati Laul about her journey as a woman from the Northeast and as an activist.

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