The Face and Voice of Northeast: Binalakshmi Nepram

For nearly two decades Binalakshmi Nepram has been at the forefront of women-led disarmament movements to bring an end to the gun culture prevalent in many parts of the country.

Binalakshmi Nepramis a writer and an activist from Manipur raising her voice for the advocacy of gender rights. For nearly two decades she has been at the forefront of women-led disarmament movements with the objective of bringing an end to the gun culture prevalent in many parts of the country. Often referred to as the  “Face and Voice of the North East” she has been working towards bringing peace to her home state Manipur in particular and India’s Northeast in general.

Born in Imphal, Manipur, Binalakshmi grew up in an atmosphere of violence and bloodshed which impacted her later life and work. Her coming to New Delhi to study South Asian Studies at JNU marked a turning point in her life. During this time, the distance from home and her readings lend her an understanding of the gravity of violence and its long-term effects in Manipur and the other Northeastern states. Influenced by the book Trafficking in Small Arms and Sensitive Technologies as well as a White Paper related to small arms issued by the Canadian government, she published her own research as South Asia’s Fractured Frontier (2002). In 2004, she was instrumental in establishing the Control Arms Foundation of India (CAFI) in New Delhi with the objective of studying conventional disarmament issues.

She has been particularly concerned about how the use of small arms and light weapons was detrimental to the wellbeing of women, children and old people. The families of men who die in violent incidents involving guns often do not come to know of the death of the breadwinner of the family, and their livelihoods come to a sudden halt. This situation led her to  founding Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network (MWGSN) in 2007, with the primary objective of providing financial and other type of assistance to the female dependents of the people who were gunned down, and help them build their lives. 

In 2015, Binalakshmi Nepram was named one of  Forbes’ 24 Young Minds to Watch out for. Action on Armed Violence of London has listed her among the top 100 influential people in the world actively working towards a reduction in armed violence. RAW in WAR (Reach All Women in WAR) honoured her as a courageous human rights defender from the war-torn Indian state of Manipur and awarded her with the 2018 Anna Politkovskaya Award, which she shared with Belarussian writer and 2015 Nobel Prize winner in literature, Svetlana Alexievich.

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