Women’s Issues in Meghalaya: Role of the Government, NGOs, and the Village Leadership
Minakshi Keeni, Nina Takashino, Katsuhito Fuyuki

In a matrilineal society, where women own land, one would expect women would hold the seat of power and be treated with respect. However, while women are treated with immense respect in the rural areas of Meghalaya, India, domestic violence, child marriage, and the lack of family planning impact the empowerment status of women. In Meghalaya, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and self-help groups (SHGs) play a very pivotal role in women’s empowerment by providing basic education, vocational training for self-employment, legal aid, protection for woman, and self-awareness programmes. To understand Meghalaya’s contraceptive use and fertility rates despite it being a matrilineal society, this study investigated the roles of the government, NGOs, SHGs, and village leaders in educating women on the repercussions of child marriage, combating domestic violence, and the advantages of family planning. The study also aims to shed light on the importance of the village headman, as well as the disconnect between the views of the village headmen and women in leadership positions in the village when it comes to women’s issues. The study was conducted in two districts: East Khasi Hills and West Khasi Hills. The following groups were interviewed: the government departments of the Meghalaya Social Welfare Department, National Rural Health Mission, and the Women’s Special Cell; four NGOs; and 20 village headmen, 12 presidents of the female unit, and 13 SHGs from each village. From this case study, it was found that while there may be different perceptions of reality between the village leaders, government, and NGOs, when it came to the eradication of social issues, the three groups were closely aligned in goals. It was also found that views differed between the society’s men and women when it came to the above-mentioned women’s issues. These findings stress the importance of women’s representation in the local governance system.

Full Text: PDF      DOI: 10.15640/ijgws.v6n2a10