Few Muslim women play sports and are unable to realise their full potential because of social and religious restrictions, Md Raheijuddin Sheikh, principal of Lilong Haoreibi College said on Saturday.
Addressing the one-day national seminar on the ‘Role of women in sports’ on Saturday at Lilong Haoreibi College, the principal said the negligible participation of Muslim women in sports is not due to lack of talents but because of social issue and called for timely intervention. It is the right time to discuss the issue as an important agenda, he asserted.
The seminar was organised by Lilong Haoreibi College with the support of National Commission for Women, New Delhi, to provide a platform to transact the ideas and share knowledge towards dealing with the issue before it is too late, the principal said.
Principal Raheijuddin said Manipur is known to the rest of the world as a powerhouse of sports. But the participation of Muslim women in sports is less. They are equally smart or even smarter than others in sports, yet they cannot expose their potential because of societal factors and religious constraints, the principal added.
However, during the last five years some girls of the community have come up in various fields of sports even in martial arts, the principal said, adding that Muslim women have been actively participating in most of the economic activities. This is a unique culture which is not seen in the rest of the world, he said.
Chairperson of Manipur State Commission for Women, Salam Ulka Devi expressed concerns over less participation of Muslim women in sports due to certain factors and suggested vast awareness in sections of society.
“We have an innate quality of sports and this quality, potential needs encouragement and support from every section of society,” Salam Ulka said, adding that it is a field of learning moral, discipline and integrity.
"More number of sportspersons are from rural than urban, those sportspersons from rural face hardship of financial support as well as lack of encouragement. Every parent, including family members should understand their child before discouraging what she or he likes," she said.
Director of University and Higher Education, government of Manipur, Rangitabali Waikhom spoke on ‘Bleed with pride’ and said that in India, out of the 383 million women/girls menstruating, 70 per cent of the girls have no knowledge of menstruation before their menarche (the first occurrence of menstruation).
A normal body function leaves them with feelings of confusion, shame, and despair during their first period. Eighty per cent cannot afford sanitary products and a quarter of girls drop out of school when they hit puberty. Still socio-economic- cultural barriers are faced by girls, Rangitabali said.
She also shared her experience during her initiative tenure as a deputy commissioner of Imphal East district to spread awareness of ‘bleed with pride’ and distributed sanitary pads to school girls. She said she learnt of many girls unable to afford sanitary pads and advised that girls should give priority to initiate steps to stay healthy.
During technical session, principal of DM College of Arts, Ch Sheelaramani Devi chaired as a moderator and assistant professor of DM College of Arts, Syed Ahmed spoke on ‘Muslim women in sports: past, present, future’.
Assistant professor, Ashalata Meisnam of Lilong Haoreibi College spoke on ‘empowering women through sports. Cultural activist and Manipuri writers, SM Sheikh spoke on sports in Manipuri Muslim society.
In the second session, former principal of Lilong Haoreibi College, K Kunjarani Devi chaired as moderator and assistant professor Feroja Syed of Modern College spoke on educational status of Manipuri Muslim women and participation in sports. Assistant professor of Lilong Haoreibi College, N Bino Devi spoke on Manipuri women in sports: challenges and prospects.
Assistant professor of Moreh College, Khullakpam Sapana spoke on from pomelos to the football: a pioneer of Manipuri Muslim women in football. Assistant professor of Lilong Haoreibi College, Ng Sapana Devi spoke on schedule caste women in sports with special reference to Kakching district.
During the inaugural session of the seminar, Muslim women with outstanding contributions in the fields of education, sports, culture and media were felicitated.