Nagaland rewrote its own history by electing two women candidates for the first time in the 2023 state Assembly elections on Thursday, 2 March.
Both candidates are from the ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP).
While Hekani Jakhalu won from Dimapur-III, Salhoutuonuo Kruse bagged the Western Angami AC constituency.
Jakhalu defeated Azheto Zhimomi of the Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) by 1,536 votes, and Kruse won against Keneizhakho Nakhro, an Independent candidate.
Who Are the First Women MLAs of Nagaland?
Forty-seven-year-old Hekani Jakhalu studied at Lady Shri Ram College for Women and Delhi University's Faculty of Law before going on to pursue LLM from the University of San Francisco, according to The Indian Express.
She subsequently worked at a law firm in Delhi. In 2005, she returned to Nagaland to start an NGO called YouthNet to educate youngsters and help them acquire life skills.
In 2019, she won the Nari Shakti Puraskar.
Salhoutuonuo Kruse, 56, is a hotel owner. Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio had campaigned for Kruse.
She is also a social worker who has worked with various NGOs and civil society organisations for nearly 24 years.
A 60-Year Wait for a Woman MLA
Both their victories end the state's 60-year-old wait for its first woman MLA. This year, four women were in the electoral fray in the state.
In fact, Nagaland has only had one woman Lok Sabha member, namely Rano M Shaiza, who was elected back in 1977. In 2022, S Phangnon Konyak was elected as the BJP Rajya Sabha member from Nagaland and became the first woman to get a seat in the Upper House.
The other women candidates who were in the fray this year were Rosy Thomson of the Congress in Tening and Kahuli Sema of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Atoizu.
Kahuli Sema, 57, made her entry into politics in 2022 after taking voluntary retirement as the Engineer-in-Chief of the Public Works Department. Thomson, a 58-year-old social worker, has been a Congress party worker since the 1980s.
(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)