Wednesday May 29, 2024
Wednesday May 29, 2024

What is it like to be a woman in Nepal?

On the occasion of International Women Day, looking at the condition of Women of Nepal

2021 Mar 08, 7:29, Kathmandu
Women in Nepal Photo credit: Stephan Bachenheimer

Chhori ko janma harey ko karma’, which literally translates to ‘A daughter is born with a doomed fate’, is a commonly used phrase in Nepal to portray a woman's life. Women in Nepal have come a long way in terms of not only getting the opportunity to receive an education but also with the constitution enshrining their right to parental property. Yet, even in this age gender discrimination is considered ‘normal’ in our society.

Some of the issues still being faced by women are gender-based violence, child marriage, trafficking, unequal representation and participation in decision making, and not to forget the general lack of respect in society. Stereotypical gender roles haven't been easy for women especially in rural areas.

The International Women’s Day was a movement to celebrate women in a man-dominated society. It was a movement for women to have equal rights. But should we really be celebrating Women's Day instead of treating everyone equally every day?

What difference does it really make to a woman when we celebrate a certain day as Women’s Day and then she has to get back to the same routine from the next day? And what is it to be a woman in Nepal specifically?

Former Miss Nepal Zenisha Moktan shares that even as a celebrity she has faced discrimination in different forms. “I am not talking about cooking or doing mundane household chores. It is the way I am treated in society just because I am a female,” she says.

Celebrating Women's Day is a nice occasion because women have come far, Moktan mentions, adding, “But when you pause and reflect there are many things that still have not changed.” She says that it is not just about our rights being enshrined in the constitution but their implementation too.

“It actually makes no difference if a woman has her rights secured in the constitution but has to face discrimination on a daily basis for every small thing.” 

Meanwhile, Shreeti Pradhan, a music therapist and student of Buddhist Studies in RYI University, says, “It’s not about only one incident where I felt discriminated. It is everywhere and it happens every day.”

She adds that change has to first begin at home. “It does not feel good to talk about it but it is a fact that women are first discriminated at home itself,” Shreeti states. “Our society is very patriarchal even to this day,” she mentions citing the example of a daughter having to seek permission for every small thing while a son can most often do as he pleases.

One issue Shreeti strongly feels about is related to the time when a woman is going through her menstrual cycle. “Menstruation is purely a biological phenomenon and even during that period we are told to do this or abstain from that,” she says, adding, “To make things worse it is usually the women-folk who are practising this.”

“For me, feminism is not just about women or taking out processions. It is about accepting all genders,” Shreeti states. 

Aakriti Pradhan, who works as operation manager at Antidote Nepal, in the meantime, talks about the time she was growing up in Bagbazar, Kathmandu. “My parents were so scared that I was not allowed to go out of home after dusk. I was not allowed to even go for a friend’s birthday if the celebration was in the evening,” she reminisces. “This might sound normal to many but it actually is discrimination in a different form.”

She smiles when she mentions that the first time she was allowed to travel was after she finished her SLC examination. “My parents were trying to protect me but they were actually infringing on my right to live a normal life,” Aakriti adds.

Meanwhile, Prerana Lamichhane, who is studying BBIS at Little Angels’ College, says that she never felt discriminated against until her father passed away two years back. “The way society looked at my family became different. And because there was no male member in my family we faced a harrowing time in getting the paperwork completed in the municipality office,” she mentions.

“We were literally treated like persona non grata,” Lamichhane states. 

However, change needs to begin with us women, says Palden Sherpa, a student of IEC College in Kathmandu. “Due to the oppression that women have faced for ages a lot of women feel they cannot do certain things because they are incapable,” she says, adding, “This mindset has to change if women want to see real change.”

Sherpa mentions that women need to go out and do things that matter to them or are interested in irrespective of what society says. “Once we start setting our own limits then change will take place.”

Gender discrimination Women in Nepal Women

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