Nepali women of yesterday and today #AskAnAji
Shiro Moktan, Aji's Maker responds to our latest #AskAnAji question. Sudiksha Pradhan, who is studying pharmacy in Kathmandu University asks “What changes do you see in the lives of the women of your time and of today? How do you feel about those changes?”
Change is the only constant in life. Global changes are too big an issue to be talked about. I am affected by what is closer to home. The changes in Nepali women. Women of my time were strong, brave and intelligent. There were struggles to be faced on a day to day basis as there is today. Women were challenged physically, emotionally and psychologically and it is the same today. What changed? Women of my time were accepting of a lot of restrictive norms either by choice or circumstances. I am not referring to the few who dared to break barriers and face the consequences but the millions who accepted what society, religion and culture laid down for them. A woman 60 years ago feared to break barriers for fear of being different and thus ostracized. The rules about what to wear, say and feel drowned her. A woman of today wants to be different and fight for her rights.
Women of my time had careers which were considered to be gender suitable. Most educated women became teachers, nurses and for the slightly bold, a secretary in an office. Women were afraid to step into fields where men ruled. Today women have stepped up and stepped out. I am so proud of the young women today. They are verbal, aggressive, ambitious and oh so strong. One sees the women of today as the heads of businesses, institutions and equal to their male peers. I look and listen to women today and am quite amazed at their confidence. Today women are more educated and thus more exposed to global issues so making them more aware of themselves.
But has everything changed for the better for women? Not a lot apparently. Generally speaking women are still second class citizens. The male ego has not been able to accept the change becoming visible in women and I think makes them angry and afraid. A working wife and mother does not get to come home after a hard day of work and kick her shoes off and relax in front of the TV. She still has to organise and cook dinner and oversee homework.
Why is change compartmentalized? Or is change giving out mixed signals? If women of today want to see progress in their everyday lives then do not focus your energy on changing the old but on building the new. Traditions are suffocating but women who cannot defy illogical beliefs will never bring change. That seems to be the stumbling block for the women of today. How many women who call themselves involved in women empowerment have changed their lives by changing themselves. Everybody wants to change the world but nobody wants to change.
Everybody wants to change the world but nobody wants to change.
I am a 67 year old grandmother. I did not change the world but I did not and still do not allow the rules of my time dictate the way I am. I see many women my age who were fighters and unafraid to change the world around them but then there are others still stuck in the grasp of a time when there were so many "do nots" and cannots". Women were stuck in marriages that undermined them and stole their self respect. It makes me proud to see women of today brave enough to opt out of bad marriages unafraid of the stigma of a divorced woman
My 18 year old granddaughter is a very vocal and strong young woman who, I know, will be a loud voice for women’s' rights because that is what she believes. We had Betty Friedman, Gloria Steinem, Maya Angelou of my time who fought for women's rights and for the younger generation there is a strong voice to follow...Emma Watson.
Oprah Winfrey, my hero, said-I never did consider myself a feminist, but I don't think you can really be a woman in this world and not be.
Shiro is a 67 years old resident of Kathmandu. She graduated with honors in English from Loreto College in Darjeeling. She started the first Cambridge GCE and A levels school in Nepal and worked in the education sector for three decades. After retirement she is following her passion for crafting.
#AskAnAji is an Aji’s initiative, where anyone from anywhere in the world can ask a question to the elders of Aji’s community and get answers based on their years of knowledge, experience and wisdom. You can ask your question here or post it on Facebook or Twitter with #AskAnAji.