The human society is a culture created by human beings. So is gender concept. So are countless discriminations. In a sense, what human beings think, practice and follow is a culture. No force beyond our own mind creates cultures among us. In other words, what we knowingly or unknowingly follow is a culture. Culture once set does become a habit. Habits become automatic, mechanical. But we can change them better. We can replace them in certain cases. We can reduce the degree of our deep-rooted habits. This concept can apply to fighting gender discriminations in general and discriminations against women in particular.
Problems are more or less, similar, globally. Relative differences are natural. But the women of the South or the North face almost the same plight—discriminations and violence against them. Why do such crises have persisted for so long despite continuous struggles seeking their management? This is a question worth exercising over.
Since we rarely try to replace the culture already deep-rooted in our psychology, gender disparity exists. Blockbuster researchers with Hollywood-sized budgets can verify this statement if they want.
One can reiterate that we behave the way we do because of cultures deep-rooted in our psychology. Women and men behave each other the way they do because of settings in their psychology.
A few hundred Nepali women, representing various political, socio-economic and religious-cultural settings, took out to the streets of Kathmandu on the 8-March occasion on Friday. This is positive. But are the vanguard walkers, organized under varying banners, conscious enough to produce cause-and-effect analyses regarding the plight of the Nepali women? Educated and well-do-do women were rarely seen in the 8-March rallies. Actresses, beauty queens, advertising models and other professional women were not seen their leading other women. Almost 99.9 percent women seen in the streets belonged to the working class category. They earn minimum wages; they face survival crisis. They face an extreme difficulty sending their children to school. They want to gain human dignity. They want to make their voices heard regarding the application of democracy and human rights in their practical life. For these major reasons, they chanted slogans in the streets.
These working class women, who represented the concerns of the majority of marginalized women in the country, need academic, professional and legal empowerment to achieve the level of dignity they desire or seek. Those in privileged positions, with academic, professional and legal strength, must not neglect the plight of the majority of women.
Five Star Hotel advocacy, seminar presentations and glossy reports are beyond the reach of the majority of rural masses. Instead of squandering millions of dollars in mere advocacy activities in Kathmandu and other cities, we rethink to take our advocacy to women’s doors? Door-to-door advocacy and interpretation, in the long-run, will enrich the women politically, economically and socially. As women liberation is not a quick-rich project dedicated to the wives of senior political leaders, justices and established hereditary rulers, the access of the greatest number of rural women to women liberation movement is a must.
Similarly, the nature of advocacy itself requires transformation.
Women liberation movement, so far confined to vote collection and reactions over the existing fate, needs transformation in itself. In other words, it must seriously and proactively address the political, socio-economic, religious-cultural and moral transformation of the Nepali society. Right politics leads to right policies. For making politics right, all forces, including women, need to foreground right agenda.
Foregrounding right agenda implies highlighting universally acclaimed human rights.
The marginalized cannot buy education and health. Without their guaranteed access to education and health, they cannot grow better. But all-out privatization of education and health services has jeopardized their life.
Guaranteed education leads to the enjoyability of empowerment and entrepreneurial opportunities. Guaranteed education not only empowers women and men economically but also empowers them politically, intellectually and morally. Politically, intellectually and morally enhanced women and men can contribute to the accelerated progress of their nation.
However, the existing realities are formidably incompatible with the fundamental meaning of democracy and human rights. Governments of the world have made education and health mere market commodities. Those who have money can buy education and health. No matter how heavy taxes have been imposed on people, massive exploitation has equally been imposed on them in the name of education and health.
The Nepali women, side by side with other progressive forces, need to highlight these basic parameters for their empowerment. Without addressing these vitals, it becomes difficult to develop their critical and analytical capacity.
Without raising women’s level of critical and analytical capacity, they will not be able to differentiate between liberating education and commoditization education. Liberating education scientifically mobilizes their mind while commoditization education confines them to their saleswomanship role dedicated to the existing corrupt culture. The trend of misusing women as market objects and further enslaving them will continue unless they are given critical and analytical education. This is what the Nepali women vanguards need to assess in the light of the global feminine day.