Who Was Lomte Ete Riba? Arunachali Women's Rights Activist Passes Away

Lomte Ete Riba, fondly known as ‘Ane Lomte’ (Mother Lomte), served as the founder general secretary of the Arunachal Pradesh Women's Welfare Society, dedicated to women of the State

Tanya Savkoor
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Photo: Jarjum Ete, Facebook

Arunachal Pradesh mourned the passing of a respected women's rights activist, Lomte Ete Riba, who died of a stroke on November 14 in Naharlagun. She dedicated her life to women's empowerment and is known for her relentless work in delivering justice to aggrieved women and girl children


Riba was known as ‘Ane Lomte’ (Mother Lomte) by everyone, as an ode to her selfless determination. Condolences for Riba's family poured in online, soon after hearing the news. Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu also expressed his grief on his X (formerly Twitter) account.

A Life Dedicated to Women's Empowerment

Lomte Ete Riba was born in 1953 in present-day West Siang district's Kugi village to Menlom Ete and Kengam Jini. Riba did her schooling from the Govt Secondary School in Aalo, and further studied in Pilani and Vanasthali in Rajasthan.

Riba got married to Jikom Riba in 1969. She had a chance to travel to various places in Northeast India with her husband, who was serving under the (North-East Frontier Agency) NEFA administration.


She was inspired by women's rights activism during her stay in Shillong; and in Meghalaya, she was particularly drawn to the gender equality among the Khasi tribe, which had the matrilineal form of society. She was influenced by these various examples of women's equality through her travels and experiences in Rajasthan and other States in the Northeast.

This kindled a deep urge to work for the upliftment and emancipation of women in Arunachal Pradesh, where women enjoyed very few rights at the time. Upon her return to Naharlagun following her husband’s transfer, she gathered likeminded women, chaired many meetings, and founded the Arunachal Pradesh Women’s Welfare Society (APWWS) in 1978, thus kickstarting her journey to work for women's rights in the State.

Spearheading Women's Rights in the State

Lomte Ete Riba served as the founder general secretary of the APWWS from 1978 to 1985 and a advisor-cum-lifetime member of the organisation after 1991. The incumbent president of the APWWS, Kani Nada Maling, shared a condolence message after Riba's death, saying, "Her visionary leadership, initiating the fight for women’s rights in our state before it gained widespread awareness, showcases her extraordinary commitment to equality. Her legacy will be a guiding light for generations of women and girls to come."

Riba was also a renowned figure in several other women's rights organisations in Arunachal Pradesh. She was one of the first members of the Arunachal Pradesh State Commission for Women (APSCW) from 2005 to 2008.

She is also credited with the establishment of one of the State’s first women’s cooperative society in 1976 in Naharlagun, which provided subsidised rations and other incidental paraphernalia to downtrodden women of Naharlagun and nearby areas. She served as the chairperson of this organisation from 1977 to 2018.


She was also a member of the Mahila Imdad Committee campus, where she single-handedly stopped an eviction drive and had the Committee campus recognised by the government.

She was also associated with the establishment of the Morning Glory School in Barapani, and rendered services as the chairperson of the school from 2006 to 2011. She was also the chairperson of Vidyasagar Academy, Naharlagun.

Riba excelled at resolving various matrimonial cases, besides providing domestic and marriage counselling.

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