Apart from proportionate representation, women need to have rights to grant citizenship as men do
Patriarchy in the hierarchy, Editorial
Songs of rebellion, Smriti Basnet
Power to women, Bineeta Gurung
Nepal’s festival season starts this weekend with Tij, the day devoted to women that they themselves are ambivalent about. Most Nepali women will fast, visit Pashupati, take a holy dip, and don red and green to wash away sins and for the longevity of husbands. Others regard Tij as a practice that perpetuates female subservience and fatalism.
But Tij is also a festival of solidarity and sisterhood, and has emerged lately as a day of defiance. If the lyrics of this year’s traditional Tij duets are any indication, women are saying enough is enough, and want an end to existing inequalities within the home, at work, and in state structures.
Despite constitutional provisions for one-third female representation in all sectors of government, the number of women ministers in the current cabinet is only three out of 31.
“The cabinet seems like an old boys’ club, and proves that the constitution alone can’t guarantee equal participation of women at decision-making levels,” says Bandana Rana, member of the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee).
Nor is it enough for Nepal to boast of having its first female President, Speaker of Parliament, and Chief Justice. Apart from proportionate representation of women in all state organs, at the very least women need to have rights to grant citizenship as men do, as well as benefit from equality in inheritance laws, and stringent penalties must be strictly enforced for any violence against women.
Says Rana: “The cultural values that define women as second-class citizens need to be changed. Nepali women must enjoy equal opportunities and equal participation in decision-making.”
Tij with Bandana, Aarti Basnyat
Reinventing Tij, Mallika Aryal
Guy’s Jatra and Tij, The Ass
The Tij hunger strike, Manisha Aryal