We all have studied gender inequality in Nepal in our Social Studies book at school. As we have grown up, it is only natural that along with us the country to grow and change too. 2020 is already around the corner, but still, gender inequality in Nepal is alive.
Our country–where Goddess Durga is worshiped for nine days during Dashain as a sign of victory against evil, Goddess Saraswati is worshiped for knowledge, and Goddess Laxmi for prosperity–seems to be in irony when it comes to gender equality. Many daughters aren’t sent to school, many are treated as a burden to the family. Meanwhile, families burn daughter-in-law alive in the name of dowry. Whereas a working mother gets criticized and deemed selfish for wanting to have a career.
Gender inequality in Nepal, and in developing countries like Nepal, has always been a burning issue. It has prevailed in our homes, society, and the whole country for centuries. However, now is the time when we need to work towards uprooting the “gender inequality” in Nepal.
Gender inequality starts at home
Gender inequality in Nepal may or may not be vividly visible lately but is, nevertheless, deeply engraved in the mindsets of people. It begins even before the birth of a child; with the parents’ preferences to have a son rather than a daughter. The feeling fosters more when the parents give daughters dolls and kitchen sets to play with, indicating a fragile nature. Whereas, they give son toy-bikes and macho/hero figurines, indicating strength a male should possess.
Similarly, a son is shushed and made to believe that crying is a sign of weakness, a belief, he holds on to even later in life. Crying is a woman’s trait, they say. Families teach a daughter to do the house chores while the son is free to play outside with his friends. Sons doing chores and daughters playing out with others is not the “norm”.
Later on, during the teenage, when a girl’s body starts to change and menstruation occurs, her own family starts treating her like she is impure during her period days. When treated differently, without proper guidance, she starts to feel inferior to others. It is the responsibility of the family to assure her that menstruation doesn’t limit her, she is as pure as she was before.
For that, the family needs to understand this first. However, there are only a few families who do not keep any restrictions on their daughters during their periods. They understand it’s just a normal process of a female’s body. Only when each family treats their children equally, regardless of sex, we can see the change in our society. It might seem insignificant to many, but small things leave huge imprints on their psychology. So, a family is the first place where a child learns about gender inequality.
Daughters considered as a marriage material only
Daughters are mainly raised and taught how to take care of her husband’s family after marriage. Parents, especially mothers, prepare her for that right from her childhood; implying that’s her ultimate goal. They regard the daughter as the pride of the family, because of which they have to bear immense pressure of maintaining it. Families treat daughters like a golden bird within a cage while the son is treated like a wild, free bird. There are always strict rules and regulations (even curfews) for a daughter, unlike a son. The son is free to do whatever and whenever he likes while the daughter has to be answerable for every little question.
While looking for a suitable husband for their daughter, families look for wants someone more educated and settled than her. This alone explains the mentality of the society that even her family wants their daughter to remain inferior to their son-in-law. This is an example of how things work, how the mentality is. in the society. It appears normal because we have grown up thinking it’s normal. Nut, it is undoubtedly among the worst scenarios of gender inequality in Nepal and countries like Nepal. But, until when, shall a daughter be considered an outsider in her own home? Isn’t it in our own hands to end at least the inequality at our homes?
Gender inequality after marriage
Life takes a huge turn with marriage, and marital responsibilities take a toll on a woman’s life. Married women must take care of the husband and the in-laws. And families even restrict them from working outside the home. There are many examples of women with immense skills and creativity who spend all their lives inside the four walls of the house. And once a woman becomes a mother, it becomes extremely hard for her to pursue a career.
Talking about mothers, they work hard for their family day and night, but, they are not duly appreciated. The passion and dedication with which a woman works for her family is beyond imagination, however, it goes unnoticed. Being a housewife or a working woman is always her choice.
Whether a working woman decides to leave her job for her family and her children or if she chooses to go back to work after being married or becoming a mother, it is her decision. Respecting her choice should be the duty of a family, it’s the respect she deserves. Families should never compel them to hide their skills or capabilities, and no one should cut her wings to fit in her in a cage.
Lucky are those daughter-in-laws who have understanding in-laws, people say. They say it’s a great amount of luck to have a husband who helps his wife and supports her career. And when one has equally supportive in-laws people say the woman must have done something great in her past life.
Workplace injustice/ unfair system
Women have to face inequality everywhere. In case of a working woman, despite having the same working hours and being able to deal with same amount of pressure at work, there is inequality in pay they get. A man gets a considerably higher pay than a woman, for the same amount of work. It has been the case since ages, yet is still prevalent.
Similarly, if we talk about women who are working even after marriage, it is only the responsibility of the wife to get back from work and do the house chores. And it’s true despite of the work load the wife goes through at work. In many cases, after coming home from work, the husband will rest, watch TV, and wait to have the food made by his tired wife. They don’t participate in house hold works, while some even misbehave if the food is not served on time or made to their taste.
While this is true, those husbands who do help their wives and participate equally in house hold chores face criticisms from the society. In many cases, even by their own mothers and family members. Those people think working at home, being a home maker or being a stay-at-home caregiver is a women’s job and not men’s.
Why does gender inequality in Nepal still exist?
The main issue in developing countries like Nepal, is people are facing gender inequality in every step of their life. But it is more worrying that we are unknown from the prevailing inequality; as we grow up thinking it’s normal. And sometimes, we also unknowingly become the reason for enhancing gender inequality in society.
We are living in a patriarchal society, we have grown up with the rose-tinted glasses and everything seems normal to us. But, the reality is quite different. The gender inequality starts and prevails in one’s family and gets worse in schools, colleges, corporate offices, and other career fields. Our society considers men as more able, strong, and powerful while women as less efficient. Men get comparatively more salary even if they do the same job. The society makes a man believe that he is powerful than the women in his life. Men tend to believe so for all his life. This mindset also encourages men to have control over other women. Hence, rape, abuse, domestic violence, and acid attacks have become the bi-products of the prevailing gender inequality.
The world is changing and so is our country Nepal. Although development is slow, there is a ray of sunshine with more women emerging forward, making a difference in this gender-bias country. Gender equality does not only mean uplifting women by giving them opportunities more than others. It means to fight for what they deserve, give them the equal rights, and freedom to exercise them in every step. It is applicable to all households and in every corner of a nation or the world. Women can be whatever they want to be just like men. This ray of hope can certainly be enough for a huge revolution for establishing gender equality in the near future.