People’s perception about women need to change

Kathmandu, Mar. 8: The 113th International Women’s Day is being marked globally today by raising voices to recognise the accomplishments of women and spread awareness of gender equality.

The day is also being marked in Nepal, with the national theme of “A strong foundation for gender equality: Expansion of women’s access to creative technologies”.

Nepal has made significant progress on women empowerment, gender equality and women’s representation in politics in recent decades.

Nepal’s constitution is progressive, and institutes several elements for the betterment of women in the country.

The constitution has ensured 40 per cent women’s participation at the local level and 33 per cent at the federal parliament.

Currently, Nepal has 33.09 per cent representation in federal parliament and 36.36 per cent in Provincial Assemblies.

Nepal is ahead of many developed countries in securing women participation in the parliament.

The country has also formulated many progressive laws and policies protecting women’s rights. Nepal has endorsed several international instruments to preserve women’s right including Convention on the Elimination of all Form of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

However, women activists claimed that despite this progress, there has been inconsistency in the enforcement and implementation of these laws and policies. Vice-chair of National Assembly Urmila Aryal said the time has come to raise voice for meaningful representation of women in every sector.

“In South Asia, Nepali women are more active in politics and have secured major positions. However, there was a need to change this fact that there still is male domination at the decision-making level,” she added.

Due to the prevailing patriarchal mind-set of the society, women and girls are lagging behind and facing various forms of discrimination and violation, said Acting chairperson of National Women’s Commission Bidhya Sinha.

Highlighting the need of change for the violence free society, Sinha said, “Change always starts from home.”

As the country prepares to mark the day with grandeur, many working class women are left untouched by the celebration.

Sushmita Tripathi, 32, of Kavre, who has been running a small restaurant under the Mahankal temple near Tudikhel, said, “What about the Women’s Day? Celebration will not help me earn my livelihood.”

“I have heard about this day but celebrating such day will not change the situation of women who have been working hard to earn livelihood,” he added.

Many like Tripathi, who work daily to support their families, argued that they were mostly unaware of women related days, rights and programmes.

The day is celebrated to commemorate the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women but it has failed to effectively reach the working class women, as the celebration is city-centric, said Rita Sah, a women activists and a freelance writer.

“Though the country has gained political and constitutional rights, the deeply rooted patriarchal society has created hindrance to create just society,” she added. “The country got its progressive Constitution, but has failed to make changes in people’s perception towards women.”

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