Gender Dimension of the Gorkhaland Movement
The academic discourses on Gorkhaland movement largely remain gendered as they failed to cultivate the ‘complex institutionalized gender relations’ that operates both at societal level and at the movement situations. They also failed to realize women as the major building forces of the Gorkhaland movement. The Gorkha Women were always visible as leaders, participants, opponents and supporters of the movement. Though they made remarkable contributions in the independent, trade union and Nepali language movement, their participation in the identity movement has been witnessed only after 1980s under the leadership of Gorkha National Liberation Front and Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha. The GNLF as well as GJMM encouraged them to come out of their private domain to participate in the movement which led the formation of the Gorkha National Women’s Organization (GNWO) in 1986 and Gorkha Jana Mukti Nari Morcha (GJMNM) in 2007 as the ‘subsidiary unit for women’ in the Gorkhaland movement. However, at the organizational and structural hierarchy they were placed on more supportive, expressive and background roles.
The relationship between the women participant and the Social Movement Organizations (SMOs) remained paradoxical in the history of Social movements in India in general and Gorkhaland in particular. One of the major problems for women participants in Gorkhaland movement is the social construction of public and political sphere with the male and private sphere with the female and they are particularly excluded from the public political and nationalist discourse. The male are always placed in a position more than women in official leadership position and relegates most of the women to the more supportive, expressive and background roles. Thus, the present work try to inculcate some of the vital sociological areas of inquiry, such as, What does the societal gender division of labour have on fuelling or motivating protest? To what degree were these gender roles reproduced during the movement situation? How does structural gender inequalities and stratification places women in a subordinate position relative to men? Are they the ‘bridge’ or ‘invisible’ leaders who played the indispensable role of linking the Gorkhaland movement to the masses?
The present paper is divided into 5 sections; firstly it introduces and explains the context in brief. Secondly, it deals with the gender dimensions of the Gorkha/Nepali society of Darjeeling hills. This section also talks in brief the impact of migration, colonial modernity and Christianity among them. Thirdly, it deals with some conceptual and theoretical issues. Fourthly, deals with the emergence of GNWO and GJMNM as the subsidiary units for women. It is further divided into 2 sections; firstly, it deals with how the existing literature tried to look into the Gorkhaland movement in general and Gorkha women’s participation in movements in particular. Secondly, it deals with their participation, nature of their mobilization and gender power relationship at the organizational and structural mainly drawing from the field experiences. Lastly, summarizes and concludes the paper drawing some clues from the third world feminism.