Towards more equality: The International Women's Day!
Cleaning, doing laundry, cooking for the family, looking after cattle, caring for children, doing farm work, collecting firewood and water - these are just a few of the duties carried out by women in the poor areas of Nepal. A long day, which often lasts up to 16 hours. The average work hours of Nepalese men, in contrast, amount to approximately 7 hours. The strong patriarchal system enables discrimination against women at all levels. They have far less power and decision-making rights, and receive fewer educational and career opportunities than men. Mostly, their role is reduced to having children and caring for the family. It is only men who make the decisions. Even today, dangerous traditions, such as the “chhaupadi" ritual, are commonly practiced, although officially banned by the government. During menstruation and child birth, women and girls get banished from their homes and have to look for shelter in cowsheds or in the forest. Back to Life addresses this situation with the construction of birth centres in the mountains of Mugu.
International Women's Day was first celebrated in 1911. Ever since 8 March 1977 Nepal has commemorated this special day, which as of this year has become a national holiday in the country. In our project area, Khatayad Municipality in Mugu, especially in the villages of Gamtha, Seri, Khamale and Hyanglu, this special day was accompanied by many activities that were initiated by Back to Life and are continuously delivered through our programme. In addition to speeches by official community representatives, there was a colourful programme, including song competitions with feminist messages and entertaining group games. In total, over 1,000 women took part in the events.
A lot has happened in Nepal in recent years. National and local government, international and national aid organisations, and communities themselves work together to fight inequality. Yet, it is a long way to go. Traditions and role models are deeply entrenched in the culture and minds of men. Women are still suffering from massive restrictions and disadvantages. They have more health issues than men due to the hard work and strain on their bodies, and less time to socialise. Back to Life is very happy to be part of a growing movement that demands and step by step fosters equality in Nepal. They may be small steps, yet effective.
For more information visit www.back-to-life.org.
Images © 2019 BTL