Book review: A worthwhile read


Why did the protagonist in the world famous play ‘The Doll’s House’ by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen slam the door on the face of her husband? It was all in the pursuit of liberty and happiness.

Many things have been said and many laws have been formed for women’s empowerment. But things are yet to be improved. Questions multiply. How is the condition of Nepali women who belong to indigenous groups or the Dalits? What are the burdens of Nepali women? How good are our Human Development Index and Gender Development Index? How can the status of women be uplifted? What are the direct and indirect ways of women’s exploitation? Why are many women still facing problems like HIV/AIDS, prostitution, rape, dowry, trafficking, unemployment, social insecurity, injustice and violence?

Pick up ‘Cultural Diversity and Gender’ and find the answer. This book written by Ranjana Bajracharya is an assortment of tiny topics and their interpretation that concern women in relation with men vis-a-vis different issues like health, economy, religion, social status and cultural practices in the form of a thin book which is a good and worthy effort. The book reads like any research about women from different castes and cultural backgrounds and is meant to be objective and academic.

Different issues like cultural diversity, gender problems, bringing of destitutes into the mainstream and women empowerment have been dealt with. The book consists of five chapters. One issue it highlights is that in Nepal, the birth of a son is still rejoiced but it is not the case for daughters. Nepali women, especially rural women, have little respect or reward. The author proposes various measures to overcome and manage these issues through institutional reforms, constitutional provision and laws. The book can be a worthy read for students, professionals, researchers and development administrators. Most of the major topics in the book are divided into subtopics and causes of women lagging behind men in many fields are tabulated in points.

The author has written with data and statistics and the book becomes a collection of facts and observations. One thing the book lacks is enough elaboration on each topic. A knowledgable reader, however, will get abundant information from the book. According to the book, literacy rate of Nepali women is very low and maternal mortality is very high. The book emphasises that I/NGOs should work seriously to uplift the status of women and both the sexes must be aware of its importance.