Shillong: Women band together to raise awareness

On October 17, 2011, Karuna Singh, Country Director – India addressed a group of women leaders in Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, on “Women and the Green Economy” (WAGE®).

Meghalaya is a state in India’s North East.  Its name means “An abode of clouds.”  A large percentage of the people of the state are tribals. Women have a unique role in Meghalaya, as a matrilineal system where lineage and inheritance are traced through women is followed to a large extent.  By tradition, children take their mother’s surname, husbands come to live in the wife’s family home, and the youngest daughter of the family (Khaddubs) inherits the family property. The people have by tradition revered nature and pockets of forests are preserved as they are declared “sacred groves” where not even a leaf is disturbed.

The meeting was attended by several women leaders, many of whom had traveled for miles to learn more about our WAGE® campaign.  Local newspapers quoted Ms. Singh on the important role women play as they are repositories of traditional knowledge since many of them work on the land, and because women can direct manufacturing and production since studies show that 85 percent of consumer choices are made by women. Those present were unanimous in agreeing that women have a major role to play in the fast developing green economy, and discussed ways to enable this.  The participants pledged to support WAGE® by widening knowledge about climate change and other environmental phenomenon in their local self government units such as the “dorbar shnongs” (village councils)  and by coming together in one voice to petition the government to enact laws that would support WAGE®.  Earth Day Network will provide the leaders simple explanations of environmental issues to be translated into local languages, and disseminate among the people of Meghalaya.  We will also include their recommendations in our presentations at Rio +20.