Friday, 24 February, 2023
PhD - Honoris Causa
Dr Manisha Behal
Dr. Monisha Behal, is the Co Founder and former Executive Director of North East Network, a women's organization working in the north east region of India. She is a social development worker and a feminist, engaged for many years in bringing social justice to rural women in north east India since early1980s. Her early years was spent diligently on touching critical local issues of women that communities needed to know for bringing in a change in their perspective. In fact, she worked through the Tezpur District Mahila Samiti, at Tezpur, her home town and sensitized several women’s organizations to add value to agricultural work with a right’s perspective.
It is in the backdrop of increasing debate on women’s issues that Dr. Behal travelled to several states of NE, working with women, women’s groups and understanding the urgent need to improve their social and economic lives. Dr. Behal took up research in the 80s - 90s, and was convinced that the collective expressions of women’s needs and rights, can better their lives and status in our society. Several articles have been produced by her in the print media during that time.
Building up a team of young activists was a priority for Behal and she facilitated the process through training, making their work create small impacts at the grassroots and enabling a sense of confidence to articulate issues collectively in the states of Assam, Meghalaya and Nagaland. Monisha Behal’s work in Nagaland, between 1995-1998 flourished into an interesting community development centre in a village called Chizami, in Phek district. The Chizami Resource Centre has become a pathway for young people to thinking positively about the rich biodiversity of their state and their indigenous knowledge. Hunting was replaced by conservation with youth who engaged in the programmes that created a rich database of biodiversity and wildlife. For women it has become a space for learning and sharing too.
Another achievement in Behal’s work is that of the birth of a film and video documentation centre called the Green Hub in Tezpur which was initiated in 2015. It is perhaps the first digital archive in the north east region with young Fellows documenting films on wild life conservation, environment and other social issues of the region.
Dr. Behal was a Member, High Level Committee on the Status of Women, Government of India between 2013 to 2015. She wrote the chapter on Violence against Women, drawing several examples of the north east region.
Dr. Behal is the Chairperson of Nenterprise, a Trust that engages with women weavers to promote their livelihood in several districts of Assam and Nagaland.
Awards and Recognition
First Sanskriti Award to NEN under Dr Behal’s tutelage for work of excellence on social work. It was conferred by Smt Shiela Dixit, Chief Minister of Delhi, on October 28, 2004.
On March 8, 2007 that she was conferred the Ananya Award, for women achievers, by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, New Delhi.
A Citation was presented to her for initiating new perspectives to the women of NE India by the Assam Pradeshik Mahila Samiti and Tezpur District Mahila Samiti, Tezpur, Assam, on their 72nd Conference in December 17, 2007 .
The Nandini Women’s Magazine felicitated Dr. Behal for contribution to the women’s movement in 2009 in Guwahati, Assam.
On March 16, 2016, the Dibrugarh Ladies Club, conferred her with Joymoti Award, in recognition for upholding of social Justice, Gender Equality and Human Rights for the Women of North East India.
Dr Behal received the Woman Achievers Award of Excellence 2015-2016 by the FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO), Guwahati Assam on 29th April 2016.
In August 2018 Behal was felicitated in the MG Changemakers event at Mumbai, and featured in the Better India series for her social contribution, along with 5 other ‘Changemakers’.
In the same month she received felicitations, along with three other women, by the Mercedes Benz Company titled She’s Mercedes, in the city of Guwahati.
Dr Behal was felicitated with the Outlook Business Women of Worth (WOW) 2019 Award at Kolkata, India in February 2019.
PhD Honours Causa by gauhati University, February 24, 2023.