By LB THAPA FOR ONTOTHEROAD.COM
Much has been talked and written about women empowerment. With the passage of time, new laws are also enacted to give power to them. The women have also been eulogized for their role in the society.
Even Holy Scriptures have praised them with an open heart. In a Hindu society where a woman is regarded as Devi and Shakti, the most cherished symbol of love and creation. A woman is said to have a creative inspiration for the poets and artists. She has therefore been installed on the highest pedestal of reverence in our society.
If all this is true then there should not be any wrong with the women of our society. But the reality is not what we see and read…it is rather different and sometimes painful as well.
Her dignified status has been confined within the books. It is a pity that all these years, she has been reduced to Dasi. In the tradition ridden society, one like ours where her position has not improved.
She is considered no better than a pair of shoes, which may be redundant or changed just at the will of a man. From the early on, she remains under the command or control to a man. He may be her father, brother or the husband.
Hence, reality is that a woman has occupied an inferior position to men. She is subjected to live a routine life of child bearing, cooking, cleaning, washing clothes and serving the family members. She can hardly be able to free herself from such household tasks.
In the cities a small percentage of educated women are employed in the offices, yet the percentage of employment remains very low. There is no denying of the fact that better education and vocational training will improve their potential and equip them for both wages and self-employment.
At the same time, it becomes imperative for the government to safeguard the fundamental rights of the women and make provisions in the law for uplifting their status in order to establish equality in the distribution of work and wages.
The status of women in today’s Nepal can’t be overlooked. All efforts should be made to establish the significant role that she can play in the progression of oneself and the society at large. It is evident that literacy alone will make women realize their potential and equip them for better wages and employment.
The International Women’s Day does focus on equal rights, equal opportunities and progress for all. The event is celebrated all over the world with much excitement and hope. However, a bitter reality is that millions of women all over the world do not enjoy equal rights. Much of the legal provisions are limited to the book of law and those laws are poorly implemented.
This is the reason why women’s status has not improved so much. Legal equality is not all that is sufficient. The women must be recognized as free individuals like their counterparts in every domain. This may be the right beginning towards equal status of women vis-à-vis their male counterparts.
Nepali women who constitute over 50 percent in the total population are still backward and under privileged in many fields. Poverty, illiteracy and superstition are much to blame for their miserable condition.
At the same time, the age-old patriarchal social structure and gender discrimination are equally responsible for keeping them behind and backward. Hence, the darkness of ignorance could be repelled only through the light of education. The literacy rate of Nepali women stands about 42 percent whereas it is 65 percent in the case with men. Quite surprisingly the overall literacy status of women has not improved even after the introduction of free education to girls.
Nepali women are highly prone to domestic violence. They are restricted to stand equal to their male counterparts. They are not allowed to present in many religious rituals. They are treated like untouchables during the menstruation period. They are thrashed or even killed for dowry. They are treated badly only if they bore a baby girl. Majority of girls are made to work much longer time than boys. This is the reason why at primary level girl’s enrolment level is only 61 percent whereas boys are 97 percent. Under such circumstance, only 42 percent girls complete primary level education as against 65 percent among boys.
The government had aimed to eliminate gender discriminations by 2015, but it is now 2019 and situation has turned only bad to worse. Such efforts can never be possible without social and educational revolution in the country. Without social awareness and pragmatic education, women’s empowerment will remain a hollow slogan.
Quite disappointingly, the organizations like Human Rights Commission, National Women’s Commission, National Dalit Commission and several NGOs and INGOs have performed poorly. Nepal had ratified the bill on domestic violence and a number of other international legal instruments relating to gender equality, but majority of women continue to confront discrimination in jobs, and their voices go unheard.
More, the state laws are prejudiced against women, and they lack political representation, said the Asia-Pacific Human Development Report released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). According to the report, the position of women has not changed significantly. Their quest for stand equal with men in terms of opportunities and rights are much illusive as ever as always.
Nevertheless, over the last one decade, Nepal has made a significant progress to improve overall status of women in the country. But a lot more has to be done. Owing to legal equality, women got chance to make all-round progress in various professions. Today they are working outside homes in various capacities. But this has become possible to only some privileged women of our society who live in urban areas. Life has still not changed for many rural women in Nepal.
Let’s not forget that poverty and illiteracy are the two most devilish social evils which keep women backward. Poverty eradication can be possible through participation of women in the campaign of compulsory education. Technical and vocational education must be made compulsory subject in the course for women.
The poverty rate will go down when more and more women receive vocational education. Last but not the least, women’s participation in the policy making is utmost necessary. Only making new legal provisions are not enough, its proper implementation is even more important.
To triumph over the gender inequality, the women must be inculcated with the sense of self-respect in their minds. Women of all regions, class and caste should work together to strengthen their position and status.
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