The year 2013 was an eventful one for women in the matrilineal state of Meghalaya. Three women became ministers, one became a Rajya Sabha member, another summited Mt. Everest and one scripted history by becoming the first woman chief justice in the state.
Compared to previous elections, women bagged four seats in a house of 60 during the assembly elections held in February.
This was the best showing by women candidates in Meghalaya’s entire poll history after the state was carved out of Assam in 1972.
Ampareen Lyngdoh, Deborah Marak, Roshan Warjri and Dikkanchi D. Shira – all from the Congress – won. Of the four, Warjri, Marak and Lyngdoh were inducted in the state cabinet.
The induction of the three women in the council of ministers was 25 percent or one-fourth representation in the cabinet of 12 ministers.
Wansuk Syiem, another woman politician and a former member of the National Commission for Women, became the first woman from Meghalaya to be elected member of the Rajya Sabha.
Toom Meena Kumari became the first chief justice of the Meghalaya High Court, and said her top priority will be to set up more fast-track courts to try cases of rape. Hailing from Andhra Pradesh, she was earlier judge of the Patna High Court.
Wansuk Myrthong, a 30-year-old woman armed police constable in the 1st Meghalaya Police Battalion, became the first woman from the state to scale Mt. Everest. Myrthong was later rewarded with a double promotion for her achievement.
Janice Pariat, a young writer from Shillong, added another feather to her cap by winning the Sahitya Akademi Young Writer Award 2013 and the Crossword Book Award for her debut book “Boats on Land”.
Although women earned laurels, safety of the fairer sex in the state was still a major cause for concern.
This year alone (from January to September), 250 cases of crimes against women were registered. Of these, 151 were of rape, according to state government statistics.