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This story is part of World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World digital action campaign

World Pulse believes that when girls and their champions are heard, they will transform the world. The Girls Transform the World campaign showcases solutions and unites grassroots voices speaking out for the rights of girls worldwide.

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NEPAL: Pen and Poltergeist

Haunted by girls who have been silenced by poverty, early marriage, and pregnancy, Sangita Thapa wields her own power of expression to channel their yearnings.

"It’s a battle for emancipation that each one of us must fight in solidarity with those who can’t fight for themselves."


As I sit here to write, I find myself lucky enough to have access to technology, just a click away from having the world read my mind, allowing my thoughts to catch like forest fire; infecting, engulfing, and growing wild.

Is it necessary to feel this intensity of gratitude for writing? It is—especially in a war-trodden and poverty-ridden country like Nepal. A pang of strange guilt and remorse grips my heart as I think of those thousands of innocent girls who are denied basic human rights: their right to education, their essential right to speak, to be heard, to lead an independent life.

In Nepal and elsewhere, women have taken the lead in all possible fields, yet it’s ironic that the greatest challenge we face today is girls’ access to education. Girls face severe challenges. Going to school is one of them. Poverty has rendered thousands of children—and especially girls—physically and mentally malnourished and intellectually disabled. It is much easier for impoverished parents to employ their young children to generate income than send them to school. This cycle has reinforced yet more poverty. Marrying daughters off when they are young cuts parents’ financial burden in half and is preferable to bearing the costs of raising a daughter and supplying her dowry.

In rural and suburban parts of Nepal, girls often marry young. They bear children at a tender age and die (what I call a properly planned, socially acceptable murder). If they manage to survive their first pregnancy, these girls are expected to give birth until they are worn out. According to the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, over 34% of new marriages in Nepal involve brides who are under 15 years of age. In some rural Tarai districts of Dhanusha, Mahottari and Rupandehi, more than 50% of marriages involve girls under 12.

Social biases and discrimination are pervasive especially in rural parts of Nepal where boys are preferred as the sole bearers of a family’s lineage and the main earners. From religious myths to everyday practices, everything fosters cultural bias towards daughters. Girls are taught to be submissive, vulnerable, and obedient, while sons are taught to be dominant, strong, and intelligent. Mainstream development plans, legal frameworks, and strategic policies are filled with gender stereotypes. Lack of women’s real and meaningful participation at the decision-making and leadership levels is one of the greatest woes of Nepal. The few women who take their seat at the leadership level are but a sheer REPRESENTATION made ultimately to look like participation.

Change doesn’t come in isolation. Many things must come together to elevate the condition of women and girls. Making education free up to the high school level would increase the girl child’s enrollment; however, it won’t guarantee her liberation from the discrimination and bias that prevails in society. It is imperative that women researchers, politicians, educationists, lawmakers, and leaders be given a chance to bring change. Incentivizing girls’ education as well as providing vocational training to the parents and girls themselves might work wonders. Providing teachers’ training is equally essential, while raising awareness of the importance of educating the girl child would be a pragmatic move.

I feel these cultural biases in the air I breathe, in the alleys I walk. I hear it in my soul, throbbing, grumbling, and roaring. It is as if hundreds of poltergeists within me are awoken after years of sleep to remind me that I have responsibilities, obligations. These dead poltergeists must rise, must groan in each educated individual’s soul, for we must not remain silent. This deafening silence is an injustice to those millions of girls who don’t and perhaps will never enjoy the precious right to education and emancipation. It’s a battle for emancipation that each one of us must fight in solidarity with those who can’t fight for themselves.

So, I write. I speak the stories of daughters, sisters, wives, and mothers—the nurturers of humanity. If I don’t, my soul will never be at peace.


Mukut's picture

WOW !!

Sheer brilliance ! I am proud of you Sangita for this brilliant write up. The apathetic situation in Nepal regarding girls' access to education is so similar to India. After all neighboring countries, right? We share the same grief, poverty and lack of access to innovation.

Nepal is fortunate to have young writers like you, who bring to the fore core issues that tell the truth. Keep it up !

Lots of love,

Mukut Ray

Sangita Thapa's picture

same grief!

Yes Mukut, we share the same grief, same poverty and sentiments! i feel immense pain to tell such stories and yet more helpless and unfortunate to realize that i've done nothing from my part except offering my few words for innumerable problems my country is facing. No Mukut, i seriously think Nepal is very unfortunate because all its educated and potential youths have migrated abroad to seek better opportunities, better future and secured life. Im shuddered at the mere thought of approaching consequences- its all dark! I wish youths would stay and do their best to bring change! Im still thinking, hoping and praying for a new and better Nepal.

Thanks for your comment darling! Your warm words always fill me with joys. Hugs. :)

rabia.salihi's picture

Dear Sangita,

Your writing is strong and the issue that you've pointed to is a serious issue, indeed. I hope one day, very soon, you'll see the positive impact of your words, we all will. For it is happening not only in Nepal but in many parts of the world and so the power of your pen will be the source of bringing back the peace to your heart, to our heart, that is taken by the injustices happening around to women, to human. For the changes that are alive in our hopes


Sangita Thapa's picture

alive hopes!

Dear Rabia, perhaps you're right! The hopes that are alive within us would lead us to actions, to change! I wish the change we all want to see would happen soon, soon before my mortal eyes go blind and brains fade of old age and death. I hope it will happen soon. Thanks for your kind words Rabia. Goodluck for the VOF training. You're a brave girl and im proud of your achievements! :)

Paulina Lawsin's picture

I know the feeling. I

I know the feeling. I couldn't understand why I feel uneasy when I don't write. I feel like longing for a beloved when I am not able to come up with something. As if my livelihood depends on the article I cough up. I couldn't define it until I read your last sentence and I quote, "If I don't I will never be at peace".

We owe this gift of expression through the written word to those who gave us the opportunity to get an education. Let's hope that by writing about human rights and the plight of women, girls and the marginalized sectors, more doors will open wider to provide equal access to and participation in education, employment, basic social services and governance.

Cheers to talented young women like you. May your tribe increase.

Sangita Thapa's picture

Yes Paulina

My dear sister, I agree, we must be thankful to those who gave us this amazing skill of writing and voicing our combined issues. I too hope that these writings won't just be some cacophony of useless tales, but would bring some positive and actionable energy in all of us, especially youths and leaders. Thank you so much for your soothing words. You're precious to me. :)

Adahmbah's picture

Thanks for this great inside

Courage sister and keep the faith
Adah Mbah

Sangita Thapa's picture

Thank you!

Dear Adah, thank you so much for your inspiring words. :)

Saywan Mustafa Ibrahim's picture

Hi Dear

The text is really touching. well done.

Saywan Mustafa Ibrahim
Pulse Member
Kurdistan Region (IRQ)-Erbil

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