My Community: A Wealth of Gender Discrimination
Men continue to gain power while Nepalese women still live like they did 59 years ago. Their voices are ignored and they are discriminated against in every sector. Rural women are especially disadvantaged. Ninety percent of Nepalese people live in rural areas and depend on rural agriculture. Nepalese women represent 63% of farming labor, but only 10% of women own their own land.
It is the worst for widows and for Dalits, who are known as “low caste” or “untouchables.” I recently talked to a woman named Maiya Katwal from Mirgouliya Village Development Committee, who became a widow 10 years ago. Her home community ignored her after her husband’s death, prompting her to move to Mirgouliya in order to survive. There she made a small house out of bamboo, where she lives now with her three children.
“I wanted to work,” she told me. “But when people knew about my situation, they ignored me. They believe that if they see me, they will have a bad day. How is that my fault?” Widows are considered bad luck in Nepal and therefore are forced to stay indoors. According to superstition, seeing a widow venturing out brings bad luck.
Enough is enough: gender discrimination must be stopped. We want to live like we are part of human society, not tamed animals. We want to set the example that women in Nepal can do anything. We want to fly in the sky like birds, but we don’t need wings because we don’t want to fly away from our country. Small changes are beginning to emerge as the number of educated women increases in Nepal. I believe this is the greatest hope for bringing equality to the country. Literacy and education, however, are only the beginning. Even if all women become literate, will they be able to work and support their families? Unless women become economically powerful, we will not be the decision-makers, and we will continue to lag behind men. I want to walk in the way of light and build an enlightened world. The international community can lend their support through education, awareness, and women’s empowerment programs.