AIZAWL, April 17 - From meat shop to stone quarry to government offices, the womenfolk dominate workplaces in the otherwise traditionally strict patriarchal tribal society in Mizoram.
A recent survey conducted by Mizoram Presbyterian Church�s Synod social front has revealed that women outnumber their male counterparts even in the male-friendly workplaces like butcher houses and stone quarries.
Women, who constitute 54 per cent in different government offices, also contributed a whopping 71 per cent in commercial establishments, like restaurants, shops and vegetable markets.
Even in what is considered to be male-friendly workplace like stone quarry, 62 per cent of workers belong to the weaker sex, the study revealed. Most of the women working in stone quarries are engaged in chipping stones.
In the teaching profession, women are outnumbered by men with the fairer sex constituting 36 per cent of the total number of teachers from middle school to university.
While 51.5 per cent of students from middle school to higher secondary are female, 47 per cent of university students are women.
The study further revealed that people between 45 to 65 years of age constitute the major workforce in Mizoram. Only nine per cent of the workforce in Mizoram belong to 18-35 age group, while 58 per cent are aged between 45 to 65. Another 33 per cent are aged between 35 to 45, the survey revealed.
The participation of women in workplaces appeared to have increased, compared to a similar research conducted by Dr Lalhriatpuii recently. According to this woman researcher�s book �Economic Participation of Women in Mizoram�, the weaker sex constitutes 43.98 per cent of the total work force.
Like in any tribal society, women were confined to household chores in olden Mizo society. The significant increase of women�s participation in the economy of the society may be attributed to the women empowerment propagated by women organisations, the most influential one being Mizo Hmeichhe Insuihkhawm Pawl or Mizo women federation, which has branches across the State.
�The organisation�s decade of campaign for women empowerment has clearly reflected in the participation of women in the State�s economy,� said B Sangkhumi, former president of MHIP.
The other two areas where women hold their heads high are education and competitive examinations. Women have held top positions in high school board, university and competitive examinations for the last many years.
When the European Missionaries set up schools in Mizoram in the early 20th century, the students were mainly boys as girls were not allowed by their parents to learn. Now, more and more Mizo girls have joined professions like medical, engineering, mass media and communication, management, computer engineering and IT. Many Mizo women have also become contractors and suppliers, doing brisk business with the State Government.
However, there are still some areas where women empowerment does not work � church and politics.
Though the Presbyterian Church, the largest denomination in Mizoram, has many women theologians, woman ordination seems still a far cry.
In politics, only four women have been elected to the State Assembly since its inception in 1972.