Nepal | December 15, 2019

Feminism: Advocacy of women’s rights


Aarju Bhandari

There is a famous saying by G.D Anderson: Feminism isn’t about making a woman strong. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength. So, if there is no feminism, the world would be cruel to all the women. There would be no women’s rights, no justice and nothing at all.

Being a girl child, I’ve had the opportunity to witness change that has been made in gender discrimination over the years. But still gender inequality is very much there.

Born and raised in a poor country, I see widespread gender-based violence. It knows no social, economic or national boundaries. Worldwide, an estimated one in three women will experience physical or sexual abuse in her lifetime, which gets even higher in south Asian countries like Nepal.

There are many women activists who are trying to bridge the gap between a boy and girl child in terms of gender discrimination. Feminism has been playing a vital role in addressing the issue. Still many women live in miserable conditions. So at times I ponder, where are all the women’s rights activists?

Certainly, rational feminists exist, and are doing good work. But that is not the face of the movement today.

Right now, we have feminists talking about the gender pay gap, or how we should have a female president, or how companies should require a certain number of women on their executive boards, as if these are the gender issues of our time. Shouldn’t they be worrying about the rights of female victims?

There’s poor implementation of rules and regulations against gender-based violence. Women will whine about feminism and talk about equality, but there hasn’t been any change in people’s attitude. She’s still judged by the dress she wears. Who do you think should be blamed for early pregnancy – the negligent parents, the government, the feminist legislators, the permissive society? Or perhaps, all of them?

I still notice how strict our parents are towards the girl child, how the society shuns an early boy-girl relationship and how women are made to be refined and reserved.

Every day, we get to hear of violence against women and girls – rape, murder, harassment, acid attacks or simply burnt alive over dowry. Feminism is supposed to be about equal rights, helping both men and women to overcome the gender stigma.

A version of this article appears in print on November 27, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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