A Brief Biographical Sketch of Hangmila Shaiza: First Woman MLA in the Manipur Legislative Assembly

by Pamkhuila Shaiza | Published: Friday, March 31, 2017

Manipur had to wait for 18 long years since gaining statehood in 1972 to get the first Woman MLA of the State in Hangmila Shaiza in 1990. Known for possessing a versatile and dynamic personality, Hangmila Shaiza also served as the First Lady of Manipur during her husband's Chief Ministership of Manipur in 1974, and again from 1977-1979.

Apart from her political work, she served as the President of Manipur Social Welfare Advisory Board for many years. She pioneered and was also the Chairperson of the Manipur Women Social Reformation & Development Samaj, Manipur in the 1970s. Additionally, she was the patron of "All India Federation of Business Professional & Social Worker Women" of the Eastern Region Manipur Branch.

Born as Hangmila Kashung on 19th September, 1920, at Ukhrul headquarter, she was the daughter of Miksha Kashung Shimray (father), and Ngalew Ngakang (mother). Her father was among the first western-educated Tangkhuls living in the Manipur State, it was not difficult for Hangmila to imbibe educational values from early on.

Her father was also a meritorious teacher and a devoted Protestant (Baptist) Christian, making her to follow the footsteps throughout her life. Her education started at Kangpokpi M.E. School, and she went on to matriculate from Golaghat Girls High school. She later graduated from Calcutta University, and upon her return to Ukhrul District, took up teaching at Somdal M.E. School.

Hangmila married Yangmaso Shaiza in 1949, and later served as the first lady of Manipur State during the two terms of Chief Minister's post held by her husband. The tragic assassination of Yangmaso made her to become a widow on 30th January, 1984. Her widowhood however did not deter her from serving the people, and by the late 1980s, she plunged into politics.

She first served as the President of Tangkhul Shanao Long (Tangkhul Women Society), and was later elected as the First Women MLA of Manipur in 1990 from Janata Party till 1991. Her success in the campaign has however been criticized as being an outcome of sympathy that she got during her election campaign, when her brother-in-law (Lungshim Shaiza), the young brother of Yangmaso Shaiza was assassinated by an insurgency group.

Although public wavered to her with sympathy, such element cannot be considered as the reason in making a capable person like Hangmila from hilly tribal areas to become the first woman MLA of Manipur. She was always an able administrator, leading figure in the social, educational, and empowerment of women in the state, and a leader in her own rights.

Even before holding the post of MLA, she served as the Vice-President and later President of Manipur Social Welfare Advisory Board for many years. She pioneered and was also the Chairperson of the Manipur Women's Social Reformation & Development Samaj, Manipur in the 1970s. Additionally, she was the patron of All India Federation of Business Professional & Social Worker Women, and Eastern Region Manipur Branch during the early 1980s.

In 1977, Hangmila conceptualized and then instituted a cultural group known as the Jagoi Marup, with the aim of spreading awareness of the rich culture and heritage of Manipur State. Having formed a troupe, she accompanied them to different parts of the country to demonstrate the dances and culture of the Meiteis, Kabuis, Tangkhuls, and the Martial Arts (Thag-Ta) of the Manipuris.

She later helped in popularizing the rich Manipuri culture through the Jagoi Marup, by making them to perform in the embassies of UK, Japan, Kuwait, Indonesia, and Ireland in New Delhi, India. Hangmila along with some delegates of Manipur visited Japan in 1978 to promote Small Scale & Cottage industries in Manipur. Their knowledge of the Japanese work was also brought back, and imparted to the people living in Manipur.

Although being highly secular, Hangmila stood by her Christian faith, and was involved in many Christian activities within and outside Manipur. She represented the Manipur Baptist Christian Association in the Asian Women Baptist Conference in 1972 in Hongkong, and later in Singapore and Thailand as well. She also participated in the First Asian Baptist Congress which was held in Hyderabad, India from 8th to 14th January, 1979.

Other than being a woman political pioneer in the State, Hangmila strongly worked for bringing development for women in the society. She was instrumental in founding the Manipur Women Football Association in 1975, which was immediately recognized by the Women Football Federation of India, as part of empowering women.

For her support, she was later elevated to the post of President, Women Football Federation of India. Her unflinching support of the sports team, by taking the participants across Manipur state and India, can only be considered as seeking gender equality in sports all over the country. It was through such inspiration from Hangmila Shaiza that Manipur continues as being one of the sports-active state in India.

Throughout her political and social involvement, Hangmila never forgot that she was an educationist. She helped in establishing three schools Aton English School (now Eagle Higher Secondary School); Kids English School; and Little Angels' English School.

The establishment of the former two schools in Imphal has been seen by the people living in Manipur as the pioneering act of promoting education, as well as bringing religious-community harmony in Manipur. By mid 1990s, her health began to fail her. She died on 3rd August, 1997 at the age of 77. Her remain was laid to rest at her residence in Ukhrul Headquarter.


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