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Remembering The Milestone In Women’s War

A strong number of 5000 women of Manipur protested against the British for sending their men to Burma to collect timber in 1904. That revolution lasted for a week and eventually, the British withdrew the new regulation of forced labour. This battle, solely waged by women, later, became the World 1st All Women’s War.

Another struggle was waged in 1939 by Manipur women when there was a man-made famine because of the British policy of exporting rice outside Manipur. The struggle is said to have lasted for several months, with women out on the roads, unfortunately claiming a few lives of the women protestors. The agitation subsided because of the outbreak of the 2nd World War.

Both these two historic war came to be known as the 1st and 2nd Nupi Lal or Women’s War. The all women civilian troops protested against the British for their policy of forced labour and exploitation of their men in 1904 and against the price hike and scarcity of rice because of exports in 1939. This was significant as women of Manipur were on the forefront of every repressive laws made by the British imperialists.

While the significance of Manipur women in fighting against social evils such as drugs to ‘repressing laws’ of the state being tackled at the forefront is immense, long before it was heard of elsewhere, their Manipur fore-mothers heralded a unique way of waging war against authorities by forming an all women’s group in the early 20th century. The uniqueness of such war shouldn’t be forgotten.

The contribution of Manipuri women to women empowerment is pioneering, considering that its society is highly patriarchal. Thus, it is important for social scientists to focus their study on the role of Manipur women in uplifting their own status and also by giving their ancestors the due credit for waging the first all women’s war.

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