Meet Nagaland’s First Woman MLA

New Delhi: Hekani Jakhalu of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP)’s Hekani Jakhalu became the first-ever woman to be elected to the Nagaland Legislative Assembly on Thursday. As counting was underway in the state on Thursday afternoon, Jakhalu was the sixth person to be officially declared winner by the Election Commission of India.

Though the state has had 13 state Assemblies so far, not one woman has been elected as an MLA to date. Jakhalu received 45.16 per cent of the 31,874 votes in the constituency.

The 48-year-old studied at Lady Shri Ram College for Women and Delhi University’s Faculty of Law and went on to do an LLM from the University of San Francisco. She subsequently worked at a law firm in Delhi. In 2005, she returned to Nagaland to start an NGO called YouthNet, which states its aim as “youth empowerment”. She also did an executive education programme at Harvard University. In 2019, she won the Nari Shakti Puraskar from the Ministry of Child and Women Development.

The first-time legislator told The Indian Express that she has four points on her agenda.

“For 17 years, I have been working for young people within the NGO sector, but there is only that much that could be done from that position. That is why I wanted to be in policy-making and enter the highest decision-making body in the state. So, in the state and in my constituency, my focus will be on young people – on building them and nurturing them. And of course, as a woman MLA I will be fighting for women as well,” she was quoted as saying.


“My other goal is to make Dimapur III a model constituency. It has been neglected for too long. I want everyone to have access to their basic amenities and rights. And lastly, I will be fighting for minority communities. They make up half the population in the state and are the ones who are actually electing the MLAs and ministers of the constituency. But once the MLAs are voted into power, these people are forgotten,” she said, adding, “I want to make sure that I get a good position now that ministries and portfolios will be formed. My team is working on it with me.”

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