From historical period, indigenous women in Manipur took part in performing both household works as well as outside work besides taking active part in various affairs of the state. To a certain extent, socio-cultural background determines the roles and activities, thereby affecting the status but assessing the ‘status of women’ in any society is a complicated affair. Until the women’s movement sent waves of heightened political consciousness across academic disciplines, there were few studies of women’s life in non-western societies. The status of women in a society is determined by the prevalent ideals and functions. Normally, the status of women varies in accordance to her functions in social organization. If the socioeconomic functions of women are higher and more valuable in a tribe, her status is naturally higher. If her economic functions are not very important, she does not enjoy a high social status. However, socio-economic function is not the sole factor determining social status.
The role of women in Manipuri society was quite prominent from early stages of Manipur’s history. In 1886, Captain E.W. Dun, in the Gazetteer of Manipur (1886), referred to the type of freedom enjoyed by the women of Manipur. He observed “all the marketing is done by the women, all the works of buying and selling in public, carrying to and fro of articles to be sold, whilst at home, they are employed in weaving and spinning.”
CORE is an indigenous people’s non-profit national organisation established in 1987 based in Manipur in the North Eastern region of India, and it has Special Consultative Relations with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations for the past nine (9) years. In the early 2000s, CORE NUPI was created in response to the need to have an autonomous section led by women that designs and implements actions and advocacy aimed at strengthening the role and status of indigenous women in their communities of Manipur and the region. There are 34 distinct indigenous peoples’ communities in Manipur and at least 200 indigenous and tribal communities in the region.