A month and a half in, and I am starting to grasp some of the complexities of what it means to be a woman here in this country. As an outsider and observer, the reality I grasp is a shallow reflection of the lived and felt experience of subjugation that many women felt on a daily basis before entering the shelter.
To say, “a woman is simply treated differently than a man in Nepal” doesn’t quite capture the full reality of the experiences that I’ve heard recounted to me in POURAKHI Nepal’s emergency shelter home for returnee women migrant workers. Through case file after case file, stories of physical and psychological torture riddle my screen. I can’t help but wonder how these women could get up each morning with enough strength to continue to live, work, and nurture their children, after experiencing such atrocities. I am baffled.
I recognize that to generalize extreme cases onto all Nepali women is both wrong and dangerous. Of course, the challenges of each woman is nuanced by their social location and access to resources, power, and control, but still some commonalities seem to be shared across a variety of experiences.
This past week I sat down and interviewed a staff member from POURAKHI Nepal, and discussed Gender Equality within Nepal. POURAKHI Nepal is a collection of people (many of which themselves are returnee migrant workers), that focus their energy on empowering women migrant workers so they can enjoy and experience their rights throughout the entire phase of Foreign Labor Migration (if unaware of these phases see Figure 1. for a diagram on the migration cycle). It’s a lofty vision but one we need to run after. With this heart, they are in tune with the various barriers and issues that continue to subjugate many women, leaving them vulnerable, stigmatized, and exploited. I asked this staff member what gender equality looks like in her opinion, what the current situation is like in Nepal for women, and where various opinions regarding gender roles stem from.
The link of our short discussion is attached below and I hope it serves to spark your curiosity and provokes you to deeper examination of some of these complex issues.
Infographic Credit: The Overseas Development Institute (ODI), https://www.odi.org/opinion/9112-infographic-migration-liveilhoods-slrc