MIDWAY : Women’s dilemma

Times have changed. In the past, only a few girls went to school. But most girls of today are lucky, as they are rubbing their shoulders with boys at school and college.

Educated parents of the 21st century do not discriminate between boy and girl when it comes to spending on education. However, most parents in Nepal are yet to overcome their hangover

in one respect. They are still more interested in looking for life partners for their daughters than in seeing them through university. This may be due to their deep concern for their girls, but it kills the opportunity for the girls to develop their independence and career, which would stand them in good stead in their future struggle in life. A recent survey in Kathmandu came out with similar findings. On the other hand, the parents’ priority for their sons is that they get a good job when they complete their studies.

A daughter who is taught to be bold, confident and self-motivated nevertheless has to compromise with the wishes of her parents and follow the norms and values of the family. This is epitomised in the famous Hindu aphorism: Nari timi prithivi bana, i.e., a woman should have unlimited tolerance, as she has been compared to the earth which uncomplainingly bears all the burdes. I first heard this when I was a child of nine. The saying had little or no meaning for me back then. But the implications sank in as I became more mature. I came to know how girls and women were systematically exploited under the garb of religion and culture.

Today’s girls are in a dilemma. They are brought up in a modern educational background where they pick up values, such as boldness and independence, but at the same time they are expected to defer to ancient restrictions, particularly when they get hitched. Husband, children and family become their world and they are expected to sacrifice the fruits of their education. Most women who nevertheless push for their separate identity face the harsh realities of life. And they get more brickbats than bouquets for all their attempts at personal advancement and self-esteem.

In this tussle, the average modern woman has to make a choice. Either give up all her desires and interests or end up in the kitchen for the sake of family.