#GaurikaSingh in #Rio2016 And a Man in Kathmandu

  • Post category:Social Justice
  • Reading time:6 min(s) read

females head held high-feat image

Recently, while social media users in Nepal, and of Nepalese heritage abroad, focused their attention on #GaurikaSingh, I was busy making a series of tweets about our girls and women, their lack of success in anything they undertake, and why.

I started with the following two.

What got me tweeting those was a reminder again of something that I had noticed for the first time way back in the Summer of 1993: a significant percentage of girls and women, on the streets of Kathmandu, walking with their head slightly tilted forward and their eyes to the ground.

While growing up in Nepal, I had learned to walk with my head held high and had always done so. But our society and culture had blinded me to — or brainwashed me into not questioning — the way girls and women walked the same streets!

It had taken me five years of living abroad to notice that. (By 1993, I had spent two years in Italy, two-and-a-half years in the US and half a year in the UK.) I am pretty certain I hadn’t noticed that neither when I was living in Nepal nor the other Summers — Summers of 1989 and 1990 — when I had come home also for break while studying in Italy.

The way our girls and women carry themselves around on the streets of Kathmandu also symbolizes the low regard my country and people have for them. Our culture, our traditions, our beliefs and our attitudes — mostly by men, for men — “teach” and force our girls and women to walk that way.

Don’t get me wrong, the achievements of Gaurika Singh, the 13-year old Nepalese swimmer at the Rio Olympics 2016, are commendable. Her achievements are worthy of praise and accolades, and she of emulation.

And, rightly so that Nepal and the nepalese take pride in her accomplishments!

But most Nepalese girls and women can rarely even dream of such achievements even in a life time, let alone by thirteen, but NOT for lack of ability, of course.

Though of Nepalese heritage and parentage, Gaurika Singh, has been living in the UK since a toddler of two and “attends Haberdashers’ Aske’s, the renowned private girls’ school in Elstree.” In other words, she has had some incredible opportunities…and look where that has gotten her!

Unfortunately, in Nepal, where most Nepalese girls and women live and grow up in, they are subjugated, exploited and held back in numerous ways from most aspects of life in general and from positions of power specifically. And yet…

Many in Nepal might even argue that it’s the thinking/mentality of the Nepalese that mostly holds back our girls and women, not just partly! After all, men control most aspects of a female’s life and thus determines her destiny.

I am not sure they do…not often enough and not seriously enough anyway is what I think. After all, the discovery that suicide is the biggest killer was made as far back as 1998!

Us, Nepalese men, and our conservative culture and tradition continue to trump over the needs and desires of our girls and women.

And in failing them, we, the men, are also suffering. Anyone with a mother or a female sibling or a female relative has suffered directly or indirectly as a result of our gender-discriminatory practices. And that’s every single one of us, of course.

If only we provided our girls and women opportunities to pursue their dreams, to go for what they believe they are capable of — or can achieve — just as Gaurika has been allowed to, imagine the number of Gaurika Singhs the country would produce!

I sometimes wonder how much social, economic and political progress we, as a country, would make were we to provide our girls and women with only half of all the life opportunities boys and men are provided.

Or how our society would change if our girls and women were provided with just ONLY the same level of educational opportunities as boys and men, forget the rest.

I keep being told we cannot give them the same opportunities for some fear of “how those girls and women might turn out.” Or that, “that’s not possible.” Or that I am just being unrealistic. Or that, “You are back in Nepal and this is how things are, you should just accept it.” etc. etc. etc.

But I am a hopeless idealist…however you don’t get to call me hopeless.

I continue to dream, I continue to imagine the “impossible,” namely that they will continue their fight for gender-equality and equal opportunities, among other things, and in spite of us, men, putting hindrances in their paths, they’ll triumph…for the benefit of us all.

Then, they’ll walk with their heads held high just as Gaurika Singh must be right this minute, no different from the way I have done in the country all my life and the way most men in the country do (though the way we treat our girls and women at home should be a reason to hang our heads in shame…really).

So what if that happens long after I am gone?!

What do you think?

 

References (added after the publication of the blog)

Kosheli (फाल्गुन १२, २०७४). महिलाहरू कहाँ छन् ?

 

 

(Visited 231 times, 1 visits today)

Facebook Comments (see farther below for other comments)

comments

Don't leave me hanging...say something....