Be bold for change: Start from within

Once the child is born why give stereotype play-games to your children: dolls to female children and motors to male children? Why not engage them in inclusive playing, wearing and performing?

For the first time UN has come with an action oriented topic for celebrating International Women’s Day.

The topic for the year 2017 is: #BeBoldForChange. What makes the topic pertinent is the global scenario under which this subject must be scrutinized. It is worth observing how conservative wind sweeping across the world is going to affect gender relation.

It all started with Muslim fundamentalists forcing women to revert to exclusive reproductive work overtly and rest of religions doing the same privately. Cases of abducting girl school children for imposing sharia law and making them reproductive machines at a tender age has started coming in the news.

In Asia, their own kin in the name of honor killings slayed women. Inter-caste marriage between Dalits and higher castes has led them to be hunted and killed in South Asia.

In the USA pro-life activists have started bombing women’s health centers. Already the USA has begun to stop funding family planning agencies around the world. Instead it has started funding disproportionately on armament sector.

Compared to above observations women in Nepal seem to have achieved some result: we have at present women as President, Speaker and Chief Justice. We have the presence of 29 percent women as legislature members.

But are women still empowered within? When they say to themselves ‘Be Bold to Change’ are they bold to ask their trusted and loved boyfriend, ‘I love you may I marry you?.

If the positive word comes it is good. But if the answer is negative then are women ready to face the risk of the answer ‘no’? Well ‘no’ may mean he is not yet ready but it may also mean he is a hypocrite feigning to love them. At this point it is best to remember, ‘Prevention is better than cure’.

And once women are married, are they bold enough to retain their family name? I remember one of highly reputed medical doctors practicing a new signature. I realized later on she was getting married.

She had decided to change her previous family name to her would be husband’s family name. How could one change one’s identity at the drop of a hat? Even today I wonder if it was Hillary who lost the election or Clinton who lost in the battle for Presidential post in USA?

How could a powerful woman like Hillary decide to leave her Rodham family name to replace it with Clinton her husband’s family name? The person who could question power relations at the global level as secretary of state of the USA forgot to question her own identity!

Once the child is born why give stereotype play-games to your children: dolls to female children and motors to male children? Why not engage them in inclusive playing, wearing and performing? Similarly why perform stereotyped division of labor between mother and father within the household?

Why not both parents share household chores together just as when they go to work together? It is often seen that men invest their money in the productive sector. On the other hand, women spend their money in reproductive work and jewelry and only on consumption goods.

Why cannot women keep part of their money in productive sectors to keep track of how the country’s economy runs and men spend part of their money in consumption products to see how the household runs?

When it comes to marriage of their children why cannot enlightened parents question the very structure of traditional marriage?

Today with so much mobility within the country and outside, availability of multiple choices of relations, changes in production relation and rapid changes in technology we should prepare our children to be independent enough to seek their own choice for marriage.

And once married they should be allowed to seek their own household just as adult birds seek partners once they leave their parents’ nests.

All these may sound too nitty-gritty. But in relationships that too for women, small things matter more than high sounding gender empowerment. For it is the cultural aspect more than the economic barometer, which affects women deeply, damaging their identity?

This is specially so in South Asia which has produced many women prime ministers, however feudal culture has left women weak within.

In Nepal when all oppressed communities: Dalit, Muslim, including all oppressed ethnic groups and regions, are asserting their identities why cannot women assert their identities? Thus be bold to change: first from within to assert your identity! Once we are bold to assert our own identity within then we can start looking for it outside.

These days inclusive proportionate representation is the talk of the town. With election fever looming large with more than 1300 women candidates contesting the local election, many questions need to be asked in the public sphere.

Yet when we see all-male speaking panels are in political shows and event management why cannot women boldly ask for making it inclusive? Or why not dare to boycott it? For this, women have to be united. That is where the importance of organization comes. Women need organizations more than men. Women are the most divided community locked up within their four walls.

As for men, it is high time they start seeing women as equal as men.

They must shun the stereotyped image of women as mother, sister, and wife only. They too need their share of ‘Be bold to change’ if they are smart enough to know that the world is changing.