Let women rise

Published On: March 7, 2021 07:00 AM NPT By: Dr Pallavi Koirala

“Behind every successful man, there is a woman, goes the saying. That’s true. But the opposite should also be true.

I am a woman, a daughter, a sister, a wife and a mother. 

My journey by far is definitely not all beds of roses. Every woman handling both her personal and professional life is struggling to balance both. There are millions of women who can relate to my story. Real change in women’s rights and opportunities has always been sluggish. 

Currently, I stay away from my home to pursue my postgraduate in medicine. This doesn’t mean family isn’t my first priority. The struggle is real. The juggle is exhausting. But I believe I did what I had to. I think it's okay to follow your passion with a child in your arms. It is also okay to leave your work to be with your child. There are no rules as long as it makes you happy.

However, there are times I feel I failed as a mother. There are times I wish I didn't have to miss my child's milestones and wish to keep him close to me physically. But somewhere I also realize that life is never going to be “perfectly balanced” like we want to. Everyone we meet is going through the struggle we are unaware of.

Someday, I hope my son will be proud of me. Through my story, I want him to visualize every woman struggling to bring a balance in achieving their professional goals and balancing their personal lives. I want my son to watch with respect whenever he sees any women take lead in any career fields.

History has seen many unstoppable, powerful, intelligent and inspirational women who exemplified themselves in various ways. Maya Angelou, MalalaYousafzai, Angela Markel, Kamala Harris, Theresa May, Michelle Obama, Pasang Lhamu Sherpa, Anuradha Koirala, Pushpa Basnet, Oprah Winfrey, Jhamak Ghimire and Sushila Karki have stepped up and done wonders all over the world. They overcame their hardships, shattered the glass ceilings and increased our liberty, safety and prosperity. These women represent all of us and prove that “hands that rock the cradle can definitely rule the world.”

The 2021 UN theme for International Women’s Day is “ Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID 19 world” highlighting the impact that girls and women worldwide had as health care workers, caregivers, innovators and community organizers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Famous advocate Katja Iverson said “As COVID 19 intensifies around the world, it is clear that if we truly want to deliver health, well-being and dignity for all, girls and women must be at the front and the center in the emergency responses, in social and economic recovery efforts, and in how we strengthen our health systems post pandemic.” 

Most of the countries that have been more successful in controlling the pandemic—Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, New Zealand—are led by women. Women’s representation and engagement in leadership roles would put women’s issues at the forefront, challenge the traditional hierarchies of knowledge and power and advocate for more inclusive, diverse and representative decisions. 

Nevertheless, not a single country has yet achieved gender equality completely in terms of work payment, position or leadership. If women and men participated equally in the formal economy, there would be a huge rise in GDP of the country. 

Nepal has also shown development in certain areas like life expectancy and literacy rate but gender equality is at a lumbering pace. In 2019, Global Gender Gap Index for Nepal was 0.68 which is growing at an annual rate of 1.27 percent.  It is in 101st position out of 144 countries for gender parity. This index measures the gap in four key areas—health, education, economics and politics. It measures women’s disadvantage compared to men. It clearly gives us a hint of the sectors which should be focused at.  Collaborative efforts from the government, administrative levels, public and private sectors and policy makers are still needed for our country Nepal to reach the state of gender equality. There are still places where girls are forcefully married at an early age and lose their lives during the complications of pregnancy at an early age. Traditional beliefs and norms are deeply rooted in our country. Even though the female literacy rate has shown marked improvement in the following years, when  the male literacy rate of 78.59 percent as compared to female of 59.72 percent  shows the huge gap between the sexes.  Educating young girls and making them independent is crucial to attain our goals of gender equality. Sexual violence and exploitation, the unequal division of unpaid care and domestic work, and discrimination in public office remains huge barriers. 

However, Nepal has taken some good measures for women empowerment. The constitution guarantees 33 percent seats to women  to enhance the participation in policy making in the federal, provincial and local levels. Ensuring the provision of equal rights is important but proper monitoring from the concerned authorities to balance the gap is equally important. Empowering women economically, socially, mentally and legally is a must for the development of the entire nation where more than half of the population is women. 

The adamant expectation of women working 12 hours a day at the workplace, being available at any hour during work and also continuing handling the family with the primary responsibility of domestic duties is the obstacle women face. Hence, Women's Day for me is not only about encouraging and uplifting women with opportunities but also about appreciating our equally loving partners who hold equal responsibility of our children when we are not around, our family who never questions our decisions and respects our integrity. There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.

We need to stand equal. “Behind every successful man, there is a woman, goes the saying. That’s true. But the opposite should also be true.

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