Although women have been able to achieve tremendously in many facets of their life, people generally hold the conventional concept of women being weak, vulnerable and submissive. Women have always been commonly perceived as being unfit for any form of higher education and because of societal pressure and expectations, they retreat to a life of raising children and cooking meals for the husband.
The data show that 32.7 per cent of Nepali women are in lower house and 37.3 per cent women are in the upper house. Nepali women occupy 37 per cent positions in the national politics.
There are times even in the present context, that majority of women have to still fight against the stereotypes that undermine their confidence and limit them within the four walls of houses. Female status in society is in the process of changing with time and it can happen only when the perception of people towards them changes.
Despite the constitutional provisions and laws, violence against women continues in the country. The issue of Women Empowerment is yet to reach the rural parts of Nepal where majority of women live.
People tend to underestimate the potential of many women of today who have proved themselves. The rigid notions that: females eventually get married after growing up and would be a waste of money, they don’t take generations forward, that they are not allowed to perform final rites of their dear ones when they die are things that literally compel females to refrain from the kind of job they want to do, and from the kind of career they want to pursue.
Talking of women empowerment, I have something to share here. As students, we would be taken on educational tours to see the condition of rural areas of Kavre. We could visit remote areas and know the status of women there. On asking one woman about her daily life, she shared her story this way: I am Susheela. We are four sisters and one brother. Brother used to get more food and better clothes. We sisters had to do with less food and work in a field. This was the discrimination we faced. Though all this happened years back, the hurt stuck. Even today, I fight over this with my mother. I feel very sad. If only I too had gone to school like my brother, I felt that I could have done much better in life. Growing up with this angst, I was determined to find a way to better the lives of all women.
Later, a few years after, we came to know that the women we had talked had opened up a big business in her area. She wasn’t just able to stand on her own feet valuing her potentiality but also she had been an entrepreneur who provided work/ business to women just like her and be independent on their own. She had done a great job. Nonetheless, her effort was finally recognized. Now, she is the first successful businesswoman in her area and feels proud about herself.
It is more evident from the above fact now that we are wanting to see a majority of women like Susheela taking bold steps ahead, realizing their inner strength and achieving things in the best of their abilities. Their way of balancing their home as well as their work reveals their great potential hidden inside them and that they deserve more than what we consider and offer them.
Women's active participation in politics was noted later in the 1990 People's Movement where women from various regions and ideologies significantly contributed in the success for abolishing the one party system and establishing the multiparty democratic system in the country.
It's never a wonder to know, rephrase or ask for names of sectors where women have not contributed. Even then one may not be able to name one because these days' women have made their presence felt in every field. They are second to none. This is a true reality of today's world. It's high time to value their strength. And give a great lesson to learn from them, to never underestimate or question the power of women. Women are already strong, it's about changing the world to perceive that strength.
This is 21st century; the world of difference. There have been many instances where we have learnt that nation develops only when women are made literate. Swami Vivekananda once quoted, “there is no chance for welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved.”
We cannot all succeed if half of this is held back, as noted by Malala Yousufzai. This truly signifies that when a girl in the family is empowered, the probability of society getting empowered succeeds at a high rate. Remember 'one girl is enough to change the world'. Receiving education should not just be like any formal thing but it should be every girl child’s basic need; the right to education. The true fact is that 'an educated man can change the family but educated women can change the generation'.
There may not be a common definition of empowerment because empowerment is a process. Throughout the process, an individual becomes an agent of change. More simply you can take as, 'can do' going from 'I can't do I can'. Believe it, it’s the powerful process to make a difference. When it happens, you will begin to taste the goodness of it.
Talent is genderless and it must be. It's our responsibility to take action in favor of women and make them even stronger by uplifting their talents. Diversity in humanity creates huge opportunity. The strength lies in taking on board the different perspectives that different individuals on a team bring together to bring about any change and perform better. So, let's be the part of this change. It's never too late!