Imphal/Bangalore: Amidst the ongoing ethnic conflict in Manipur, the Eta Northeast Women’s Network, an NGO based in Imphal and Bangalore, has emerged as a beacon of hope for women seeking refuge in relief camps. With a commitment to uplifting these women, Eta has been providing essential skill training and livelihood support to those affected by the recent violence.
Sophia Rajkumari, the founder and chairperson of Eta, emphasized the organization’s goal of kickstarting a basic livelihood cycle for the victims. “Our aim is to equip these women with essential skills and provide them with initial capital to embark on entrepreneurial ventures,” she stated. Eta’s efforts not only focus on skill training but also extend to connecting these women with potential markets and customers.
Sophia highlighted the comprehensive nature of their initiative, aiming to offer a sustainable path to financial independence for the victims and their families. “We want to empower these women, aiding in their psychological recovery from the traumas they have endured,” she added.
The NGO’s approach involves counselling, skill training, and support for entrepreneurial endeavours. Sophia explained, “We’ve been teaching women at the relief camps to craft incense sticks and confectionery items. We supply the materials and support the marketing and sales, ensuring that all proceeds go entirely to the women.”
Eta’s recent collaboration with the office of the deputy commissioner of the Bishnupur district resulted in procuring over 20 looms for the displaced persons. “We carefully select beneficiaries based on their skills and needs, aiming for effective assistance,” Sophia noted. The organization will provide raw materials and aid in marketing for women weavers, reflecting their commitment to empowering these women.
The beneficiaries themselves attest to the positive impact of Eta’s support. Maniyai Haobijam, a beneficiary from Churachandpur district, expressed gratitude by donating Rs. 4,000 a portion of her earnings to Eta. “They brought hope into our lives. We were all hopeless, but now we have the confidence to start a new life,” she remarked.
Bidyarani Oinam, another beneficiary, echoed this sentiment, stating, “I was disheartened when I first escaped the ethnic clash… Now, I have hope as I learned the art of making candlesticks with the support of Eta.”
“Engaging in these activities eased my tension. Eta handles our product marketing, sparing us the hardship. I vividly recall when they informed me about the high demand for our products.” Oinam added.
Eta’s unwavering dedication to the social and economic empowerment of women in North East India continues to impact the lives of those affected by the conflict. Their non-political, non-affiliated stance underscores their commitment to improving the lives of women across communities in the region.
Through skill-building and livelihood support, Eta strives to bring a renewed sense of hope and independence to women in Manipur’s relief camps.
Eta is a non-profit, established in 2019, empowering women in North East India, boasting a global membership of over 4000, primarily from Manipur. It remains non-political and non-affiliated, advocating for women of all communities in the region, aiming to foster unity, self-help, and independence.
Sophia highlighted Eta’s past initiatives of raising awareness of women’s rights and health, partnering with the Manipur State Judicial Services Authority for legal education. Additionally, they empower women through interest-free micro-finance and have supported 18 beneficiaries since the onset of ethnic tensions.