Harbingers of change

At 42.5 per cent, Nepal has one of the worst female literacy rates in Asia. But that could soon change if the likes of Sukarani Gurung have their way. The never-say-die attitude of the sixty-five-year-old grandmother of eight who just enrolled herself in third grade of Prerana Mahila Medium School at Satdobato, Lalitpur should be a source of inspiration for all Nepali women. It was her irrepresible zeal for education that brought Gurung all the way to Kathmandu from her native Panchthar two years ago. Gurung has not looked back, standing out in her class among colleagues not a fifth of her age.

Women make more than half the country’s population, but sadly, most of them remain illiterate. The male-dominated society, over the years, has not only subjected girls to observing many conservative rituals that the boys were immune from, the paternalistic mindset also limited the girls’ horizon to the four walls of the house. Going to school was a distant dream for girls and women. Now, with awareness about education increasing with the sweeping political change, more and more women are taking their future into their own hands. Even old women are coming out and demanding their right to education. The likes of Gurung are harbingers of the great things ahead for the country. Let a thousand such flowers bloom.