Feminism and Nepal
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 12 Sep 2016
6 Sep 2016 – From the time immemorial patriarchy has always been a part of human civilization. It may be because of the roles that have been assigned to the genders or the practices that has always demanded women to give more to the world than she takes. One way or another society has always created a world where women shall prove their worth to be accepted. From the past, women in general have always been treated as a second class citizen. However, in the course of time things have changed more than anyone would have ever imagined.
There is no area of study or place where women have not achieved remarkable positions due to their work. It was in 1890 when the term ‘feminism’ was first used in England in relation with the movement for equal political rights and legal rights for women. It was not an easy ride to go against the society that created obstacle in every step but hard working women made it to the top. During that time to be a feminist actually meant something, it was a matter of pride and result of uncountable efforts to uplift women’s life. Changes seen in the society after that is noteworthy.
From the starting of 19th century world has seen feminist like Eva Peron, Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Anuradha koirala and many more who have sacrificed their life to make other women’s life better in every way possible. These real feminist have done what it takes to pull women from the underworld they are living in even though it means to risk their own life. Because of their heroism thousands of women are in the safe zone, educated and with a hope of better future.
The impact their heroism has made is not only limited to the changes in the life of rescued women but also it has created a sense of courage in all of us to fight against injustice. They made world a place where women can dream to live life courageously and fight back until she gets justice and equality. For these feminist every step has been a struggle and every success an inspiration to the world. ‘Feminism’ has always been a back support to all the women to show courage in life to achieve their goals. And for society it has been a way to end discrimination and inequality.
In Nepal, Feminism started with women’s movement in 2007 where women fought for their rights to vote. It is the journey from there to this day that Nepal has had its first female speaker of the parliament (Onsari Gharti Magar) to first female chief justice of supreme court (Sushila Karki) and of course not to forget our first female president(Bidhya Devi Bhandari ). It is a remarkable achievement for a country like Nepal where patriarchy has always sub-ordinated women’s position. In a private house-hold level or in state level; oppressed were always women and marginalized.
Till today’s date we must say we have achieved significant changes in state level with women in major positions and 33 percent quota in parliamentary body. Now the question to be asked is whether the progress in state level has brought any positive changes in local level for women. Main motive to promote women at state level is to bring changes in local level but in our country situation however has not been able to make significant changes in day to day life of women. It is only few percentages of women who live in cities are able to live independently and with much freedom but for the rest situation remains almost similar as past. Women are still struggling to get Citizenship in the absence of their farther or husband, Single mother are still struggling to provide their children with identity, Female feticide still exist, women labors still work in low wages than that of men, and not to forget ever existing torture that women have to face in name of dowry.
Not only this but also HIV/AIDS has been another increasing problem for women in rural areas of our country, especially for the women who live in boarder areas. Problem seems to be increasing day by day with the migration of men to foreign countries. It is women who then have to live her entire live as a care-giver to her in laws and other family members; hence they remain subordinated forever. It is the opportunities snatched from women both intentionally and unintentionally but either way women become the victim and have to sacrifice their life inside the four walls.
There are still many issues that need to be taken care of to uplift women from sub-ordinate position and we know about it all. The thing that needs to be done now is to bring feminism into action in local level. Feminism needs to reach to those places and into minds of people who need it the most. It is the unaware mind and culturally paralyzed people who are unable to bring changes in society and in their lives. Right knowledge is what most of the people today need to break free from all the unwanted norms they are chained with. Women in great positions in state level now are a big hope for Nepalese citizen. Toughest positions have already been achieved by women all that needs to be done now is to imply policies that is in favor of all the genders. In local level the stereotypical thinking that men cannot be a feminist should be left behind. It is the true essence of feminism that “Equality is for all “should be preserved and promoted to create a prosperous society with equality and justice for all.
Hence, our country is in the path towards equality but still many hurdlers are to overcome. It is only possible if people at both the levels (state and local) understand the true meaning and urgency to bring feminism into practice in the places and in the lives of people that necessitate it the most.
Shree Prasad Devkota is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment. He is a Kathmandu University graduate, has a Master’s in Mathematics Education and M.phl in Development Studies. Currently he is chairperson of SDEF–Sustainable Development and Empowerment Forum, and has worked as a lecturer. He is researcher in the field development sectors in Nepal and has worked as consultant, monitoring and evaluation expert in different I/NGOs. Devkota has been working in the field of education of children, marginalized and socially excluded groups, especially on conflict management regarding the post-conflict situation in Nepal. He has published several research articles in national and international journals. Books: Teacher’s Lived Experiences and Contextualized Mathematics, LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, Germany, 2012. Education in Nepal from Dalit Perspective, LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, Germany, 2013. Conflict in School and Its Management by Shree Prasad Devkota and Shiba Bagale, Scholars’ Press, Germany, 2015.
Shiba Bagale is a Kathmandu University graduate. She has completed her Master’s degree in Environment Education and Sustainable Development (EESD) with NOMA scholarship as well as M.phil scholar in Development Studies. Currently, she has been working as a General Secretary in SDEF Nepal as well as Trainer in TITI Nepal. Similarly, she has also worked as a board member, monitoring and evaluation expert, consultant, and proposal writer in different NGOs in Nepal. She has published her books from international publication and research articles in several national and international journals.
Shreeya Devkota is a Kathmandu University third year bachelor student. Her major area of study is Community Development. Currently, she has been working as a program co-coordinator for Nepal-Japan cultural exchange program organized by Japan based organization Asia association of education and exchange.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 12 Sep 2016.
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