MEMBER OF THE MONTH: HOMENDRA SAH

MEMBER OF THE MONTH : HOMENDRA SAH

Youth Advocate Dr. Homendra Sah is our member of the month. His engagement with Youth CAN started after he attended the second National Youth Advocacy Institute held in Nepal in 2017. His work for the network has been really commendable. His nature to take initiatives and his contribution of relentless volunteering hours for the network has been really inspiring . Coming from medical background and being the first person in his family tree to have joined medicine, on asking what motivates him to be the part of Sexual and Reproductive health and rights movement in Nepal, he describes himself as feminist and how deeply he cares about the vulnerable, marginalized and disadvantages community and particularly women and girls of that community. It’s the inspiration that he gets to be the voice of the voiceless that strongly resonates with him to be part of this initiatives Youth CAN whose focus is to transform the grassroots.

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Within the network, his major contribution has been in successfully implementing some of the regular annual activities. He has been actively engaged in managing the social media, running out social media campaigns during September 28 and May 28, writing and editing blogs and representing organization in various forums.

Recently he was in the Bara district for community diagnosis and psychosocial and sexual and reproductive health and needs counseling and intervention for the communities affected by the Tornado. According to home ministry report, 27 were killed and 668 were injured in Bara and Parsa rainstorm. The community has shown resilience and slowly recovering from the aftermath. Finding from the field shall be shared in the next session of our Journal Klub this month.

In his verbatim: “Youth CAN has helped me understand my true potential. Initially the first six months after my training, I could not give much of my time even though I was hugely interested because of my hectic medical studies schedule. But now I am more than committed to give my best and would be sincere and ethically responsible to all the amazing opportunities and the platforms that Youth CAN has provided. Thanks to the amazing mentorship from our president and  her guidance particularly in managing social media that now I feel more competent to do so”

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An avid traveller, outspoken, friendly and team player, we hope he will continue to inspire and take initiatives in advancing agenda of Youth CAN forward in both national, regional and global level.

By Youth CAN

One step forward, two steps backwards, situation awkward… Power walk!

One step forward, two steps backwards, situation awkward… Power walk!

Written  by Nayanshri Singh

The traditional purpose of “playing games” basically revolves around experiencing fun. Before November 27, 2017, my preconceived thoughts on games were similar as well, but on the given date everything changed. As we got up and prepared for the last day of YAI, it felt as if the past two days of training had passed in a blink of an eye. The sadness of the last day and happiness of making new friends along with tons of fruitful learning brought a wave of mixed feelings in my mind. The breakfast was served along with the highly requested “spicy fried potatoes” and everyone happily enjoyed the servings with a smile on their face.

After a hearty breakfast we were asked to join our facilitators at the terrace for a quick game. We followed our orders and reached the terrace with a lot of curiosities in our head. The game was called “Power walk” and the rules were explained. We were requested to stand in a uniform row, draw a single chit from within the bag and read it a secretive manner after the instructions had been provided. After the instructions had been provided, I read the chit and closed my eyes. The chit contained a thirteen year old girl’s case study in a single statement. I had to place myself in the shoes of a thirteen year old girl from a rural village, raised in extreme poverty, and married to an elderly person at the age of eleven years. She had no hopes of ever receiving any sorts of formal education. All these conditions were proving to be too much for my mind and this swapping of roles brought tears to my eyes.

 

Everyone was asked to take a step forward or backward for different conditions. For example, all the participants who had chits that contained the roles of women were asked to step backwards whereas those assuming the role of a man were asked to step forwards. People residing in the villages were told to take one step backwards and those in the cities were asked to take one forwards. I think one can get the hang of the game! I felt as if I was constantly being pushed backwards for things that were completely out of my control! It finally dawned on me that I had been provided so many privileges since birth that had completely been taken for granted! During this struggle, the trainers asked us to open our eyes and explain what we had felt. I simply had no concrete answer to this question.

Millions of girls around the globe are being deprived of their fundamental rights; they are being sold, tortured, raped and squished under the bulky boots of “Patriarchy”. Picturing her condition made me aware of my privileges but also helped me feel the dominance of patriarchy. The emotional stress that I faced during that certain moment of vulnerability will always remain in my vault. For me personally, every other activity at YAI made us aware of the situation but “Power walk” brought us closer to the real scenario and it also helped us experience a little bit of the emotions that people in such scenarios experience every day. The activity also made us  aware of our duties and responsibilities as the privileged ones of our society. I would like to thank my trainers and organizers for giving me an opportunity to meet inspirational individuals from various backgrounds and strengthening my belief on the quote “We make the world safer when we speak up”.

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Dominance: Imposed or Embraced?

Dominance: Imposed or Embraced?

                                                                                                                Written: Homemdra Sah

Nowadays, the movement for gender equality along with the huge participation from youths and people of all gender in the revolution is appeasing and very exciting for a young activist like me. The current movements against discrimination and the actions being taken to ensure equality have dared me to hope that a day in my life would come where maybe I would get to witness a society where both women and men got to live a dignified life. A life where all their rights are guaranteed by the law. However, there are certain instances that make me a bit confused about whether we are doing enough to achieve the goal of equal rights for all. One such incident has lead me to question whether this social dominance over females is imposed against their will or whether it has been embraced as fate.

The incidence was one concerning my friend who is studying MBBS along with me, who had a girlfriend studying in Engineering. I used to be envious of their relationship, which seemed to be full of love and understanding. Having been together with the girl of his dreams for seven years, my friend even talked of marriage and proposing. Unfortunately all his dreams eventually came crashing down, that too just on the verge of completing his studies. I dared to ask him why they decided upon parting ways, to which he replied that the girl who’d completed her degree two years earlier, did not want to get married to someone who was her junior. Having already completed her degree, she’d started working and earning money, whereas my friend still had more or less of a year left to complete his bachelors. This is why she felt that he was her junior, that he was not accomplished enough for her.

While I am all for women wanting partners that match their levels of intellectuality, there was no way my friend could be considered to be beneath her in that sense. It surely would not take a smart, competent woman seven whole years to realize that they did not resonate in terms of their views regarding their careers and goals. After a more in depth analysis of the situation and further questioning it dawned upon me that the girl did not want to marry someone who was her equal. Her family (and she) wanted an “accomplished” man, who earned a lot of money, who had a large house. She wanted a marriage that would be socially acceptable, a marriage that her family would consider an accomplishment that her family would be congratulated for.

The sad thing is that, not only this girl, but many well educated Nepalese girls, who are perfectly capable of earning enough to sustain their lifestyles after marriage, have this perception. This need to marry an accomplished man, makes them blind to the fact that with this belief they are slowly undermining their abilities until eventually they are coerced into believing that they need not work, because their husbands earn enough. So why not help out more around the house. Ultimately, boom! They become housewives. I do not think that being a housewife is a lowly profession, in fact it requires as much work as any other job. It is this belief that men need to be the main source of income in a married family, that men need to earn more, which eventually brings about this change. You see, it is like a vicious cycle, first they earn more, and with money comes control. You will have to obey his wishes in order to spend his money, and his orders will become more oppressing as years pass by. This cycle as vicious as it might be, can be easily cut off from its source of fuel. The fuel is undermining one’s capabilities. One simply needs to remind themselves time and again, “I am perfectly capable, I have all the skills and assets to succeed. I will not be controlled in anyway.”

If we continue to follow this belief, it does not matter however much we advocate for gender equality, because we are ultimately still sticking to the same root of patriarchy in disguise. On one hand the voice for equality demands equal wages for both men and women but the same female at the verge of marriage opts for someone who earns more than her. We speak out against discrimination between sons and daughters but the same daughter always seeks her brother to protect her and never sees her sister capable of assuming the role of the savior.

It is said that “Dominance: if imposed can be revolted down but if accepted turns out to be the fate”. Till females accept themselves to be equal to males in their realities and free themselves from all the preoccupied gender roles constructed by society, the voice of equality will only be written on play-cards, spoken only in the speeches and advocated only on the tables. It will not be implemented in the process of raising our daughters to be strong and independent. Finally I would like to end this post with a quote “Change the way you think and you will see a changed world”. This applies to men and women both, especially to those who have amassed all the tools, but are still afraid to use them.

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MEMBER OF THE MONTH: SWIKRITI THAPA

MEMBER OF THE MONTH :SWIKRITI THAPA

By: Smriti Thapa


Member of core team of Youth CAN Ms. Swikriti is our member of the month. Her engagement with Youth CAN started after she attended the first National Youth Advocacy Institute held in Nepal in 2015 and got the opportunity to join the refresher institute held in Mumbai. Her works in the network have been praise worthy. Coming from technical engineering background, on asking what motivates her to be the part of Gender Equality and Women Empowerment she states:

 

“It’s through YAI, that I realized that, the knowledge and work surrounding gender, health and rights is not just the work of social activist but people from all the sector should come together to create the equality”

As for me, technology was never gender issue, it was my dream. Now with the knowledge regarding gender and observing the existing differences from my surrounding, I can realize why it is and should be gender issue. So, it is imperative for young women like us to enter these forbidden spaces, intersect them with the issues surrounding gender equality and create our own space”

 Her drive to take initiation in her work including challenges, her excellent management skills and her advocacy skills are something that inspires all her team mates.

The month of September was very important to us and Swikriti was one of the main driving force behind our successful completion of our Youth for choice, orientation of new members, advocacy on female community health volunteers, Youth Advocacy Institute and country seminar program and strategic planning !!

 

 

Within the network, she has her major contribution in successfully implementing the regular annual activities with dedication and precision. She has been actively engaged in empowering the youth champions with ongoing necessary skills on evidence based current SRHR, safe abortion and feminism issues/information to strengthen their advocacy ability.

 

 

In her verbatim: “Youth CAN has helped me find my true self. Initially very shy person, now I can relate to meaningful conversation and be inspired by my amazing youth champions around”

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We hope she will be an inspiring team mate in days to come in advancing the agenda of Youth CAN forward in both national and regional level.

 

 

 

 

 

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF GIRL CHILD: EMPOWERING GIRLS

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF GIRL CHILD: EMPOWERING GIRLS

                                                                                                    Written by :Aakarsan Timilsina

Today 11th October has been marked as the International Day of the Girl Child. Globally, this day aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls’ face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.  Why don’t we celebrate international day of boy child? The reason is obvious, male are the preferred sex in deeply rooted society and much privileged no matter what class, caste or socioeconomic background they are born in as compared to their female counter part. Let me share you some of the scenarios that I vividly remember to shed light on the issue:

Scenario 1:  A female infant who was found dead was brought to our forensic lab for investigation. Autopsy revealed that it was case of neglect and infant was only few months old and detailed report proved it was done by mother.

Scenario 2: A happy couple in a village got twins: A boy and A girl. As they grow up, boy gets every sort of opportunities whereas girl i get restrictions only. She is not even allowed for education. She gets married early and remains as housewife. Son gets opportunities for education, gets enough support and finally turns out to be a successful officer.

Scenario 3: During my school life, I had friend named Rabina (name changed), who was very good at Taekwondoo, she even had won some local competitions. But later on, she was not allowed by her “educated” family to continue that, arguing that it’s not girlish thing to do.

If we clearly analyze all three scenarios, real problem is stereotypic concept that people have towards girl child. In first scenario, there is punishment but we easily tend to accept latter two.

If we deeply analyze first scenario, as women was from rural area and already mother of 3  other daughters, might be she was forced/threatened by family to give birth to son. So being compelled by situations she might have done that. I am not saying she didn’t commit a felony here but until and unless, we hit on real problem of discrimination, these scenarios keeps on happening.

Similarly, in second scenario, her whole life, right beginning from her childhood, the girl faces discrimination. She is living life of second class people. She could also have also turned into economically empowered individual had she been provided with enough opportunities. So this situation prevails around the nation. People think girl child as a “guest or liability” who ultimately has to go husbands’ house no matter how educated they are.  Thus, 41% of child marriage still exists in Nepal. Also, if girls are ingrained with these notions from the beginning, they cannot imagine life beyond this stereotype and even if someone does, she and her family are out casted. So, with the fear of societal rejection, majority of the girls and her family give up her dreams and potential. If, 50% of total populations are economically backward and unless we work to bridge this gap by achieving gender equality by ensuring basic rights, providing enough opportunities and celebrate their economic success as men, how can we assume to see our country developed?

Third situation shows our modern society where well educated, so called modern and advanced and people who think they are aware about equality and rights still find difficult to practice that into reality. We label girl as weaker sex and reject the proven fact that girls are as strong and equal as men and by further engaging them in activities which requires physical and mental strength will actually make them stronger just like their male counterparts.

So, in the first scenario we were just blaming women who have been the victim of viscous cycle of poverty, discrimination and violence couldn’t think of any way to end her sufferings of not having a male child to continue patriarchy. We just saw the ends and not the deep rooted sufferings beyond that.

I think saving the born girl child is the must but not just enough. Death is not just the absence of physical being. For me death is when hopes and dreams are shattered because of systemic injustice. Death is when true potentials of human are shackled by the structural barriers of the society. Death is when you are told you belong somewhere and not capable of something without having a fair and equal chance to show your true potential. If we see that way, all the girls were killed in all three scenarios.

Finally lets imagine a scenario; what if women in first scenario had known (by any means) that fetus is female and gone for abortion? Well, practically she wouldn’t have got, since abortion on basis of sex selection is crime. But let’s think, why are we barring her from abortion? Eventually we know, she will neglect her baby/ even if she doesn’t, the child will live a life of second class citizen as described in second scenario. Are women born to fulfill to perpetuate the generation? Do we want just them to be in numbers? Or do we want them to live life full of dignity?

The answer to this is not simple and only solution to this confusion is that we need to target the real problem here,(i.e. gender discrimination and patriarchy) to bring out real change.download

Focusing more on superficial aspects removing attention from real cause will only create illusion of change. So, in an international day of girl child, I here want to raise voice against real problems a girl child is facing. Let us equip and empower them with equal educational and other opportunities so that they can express their true potential. Let them give strength, power and fill their thoughts that if given opportunities, they are capable of doing anything !!

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Edited by: Smriti Thapa

 

CREATING, CURATING AND COMMUNICATING: MY DAY-3 EXPERIENCE OF YAI

 CREATING, CURATING AND COMMUNICATING: MY DAY-3 EXPERIENCE OF YAI

                                                                                                           Written by: Bindu Gyawali

Early in the morning, as always Sun had reached my window, birds were singing, the breeze was gently blowing but my heart wasn’t cheerful as I suddenly realized that it was the last day of the amazing Youth Advocacy Institute (YAI). All of sudden, I had all the flashbacks of the time I had in last two days. download (1)It was not just a workshop for me, it was a platform where I got a chance to explore my inner-self and was able to bring a change my attitude, my belief and my perception.

The first session of the Day-3 began with the review from the previous day. A lot of things bombarded in my mind because I wanted to share everything  l learnt, however, I only shared about the topic ‘PATRIARCHY IN MEDICINE’. Being a medical student and also a future service provider, the topic had caught my attention profoundly on the previous day because it deconstructed many layers inside medical field and how gender plays a role in not only maintaining the male dominance within the profession but also in provision of the health care delivery. It has made me rethink my choice and my future plan, and has instilled courage to follow my dreams in choosing my specialty in future than to surrender to societal expectation of female doctor.

Day three mainly revolved around the topic of communication, its importance and methods of effective communication. The session was led by the president of Youth CAN Ms. Smriti Thapa. We played a game named ‘CHINESE WHISPER’ which taught us that communication is a two way process and there shouldn’t be any barriers in encoding and decoding process for the best possible flow of messages. This was followed by the play where our fellow youth champions enacted a very powerful play depicting the importance of nonjudgmental, confidential communication from the provider when it comes to access of services particularly for young and unmarried women.

 

Then, we had a concise session of social networking, its benefits, proper usage and the impacts it can bring. Following which we also discussed about sexism and misogyny in media, including movies, advertisements, songs and other areas. We watched a few videos with sexist contents and discussed about each video. The main stream media has filled large part of our subconscious through these sexist and misogynist messages that we subconsciously take it as new normal. This entire session had a powerful message that what we are and what we become is because of what we feed our brain.

We also learned about content creation and curation and how to communicate our content. We worked in groups to create our own ‘CONTENT’ about the knowledge and experiences that we came across in these 3 day Institute and the things we have been passionate about in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights. We also talked about our future plans about utilizing this knowledge to bring about change in our community.

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Bindu with her content

Some of my fellow youth champion created powerful content, it was clear that past three days were so powerful in making us question the existing norms and condition and whether we concede to it or be the change that we seek.

The most emotional of all was the valedictory session, where we were not only certified to be Youth Champion but also received our first visiting cards. This was super exciting for me and most of my colleagues. The amazing memorable photo shoot at the end was something to remember forever.

We laughed, cried, danced, played, watched movie together, and discussed matters we disagreed to finally question our own values and beliefs. To sum up it poignant in the beginning, fun in between, revealing at times and most of all full of life changing experiences for me. Collecting these life long memories, I bid my sweet adieu to my colleagues and mentors with hope to reunite again and again !!

 

Edited by: Smriti Thapa

ACCESS AND BARRIERS TO ABORTION IN NEPAL: PROVIDERS PERSPECTIVE

ACCESS AND BARRIERS TO ABORTION IN NEPAL: PROVIDERS PERSPECTIVE

                                                                                                            Written by : Roshna Poudel

Abortion was legalized in September 2002 A.D with a goal to reduce the country’s high maternal mortality ratio and prevent abortion related morbidity among girls and women. Since then, Nepal has been praised for the victorious achievement regarding implementation and expansion of safe abortion services.

 Fifteen years after legalization, safe abortion services are present in all 75 districts. Currently, there are over 2,000 trained providers, and between 2011 and 2016, over 400,000 abortions were performed at legal, safe abortion sites.1

 Things wouldn’t have been possible without the collaborative work among the government, reproductive health right working group, NGO’S and INGO’S which are active in Nepal.  The laws have been created, services have been expanded and policies are made such that people can have access to safe abortion at ease and even free of cost.

But despite of this effort why do women still seek unsafe abortion? This is a big question today arising in the entire health care delivery system.

Numerous studies have highlighted various barriers to the effective implementation of the services. The crucial ones among them were knowledge barriers, service delivery barriers, cost barriers, policy4 whereas gaps in equity, quality also threaten the realization of reproductive rights 5.

Let me share some of my my perspective as a health service provider on what I have strongly felt regarding some of the barriers at the service providing levels.  For past 4yrs now, I have been working closely in the reproductive, maternal and child health department under ministry of health.

Within my experiences I have seen women and adolescents who were in constant fear, stress, threat and pain just because of unwanted pregnancy. To gather the courage and finally walk out of their houses to the service provider’s door is like crossing a distance of an infinite ocean.  There is a self-stigma, feeling of guilt, a blaming society, and stereotypical myths to overcome.”

The major barriers where these women have to face which leads to unsafe practices despite of legalization are:

POOR INFRASTRUCTURE OF THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM:

I vividly remember one incident last year during my posting in primary health care center in eastern Teari, when women in her 20’s came for medical abortion.  She was very shy in seeking service. Due to lack of separate rooms for counseling for abortion services, I asked her to wait couple of minutes before the Maternal and Child health room was free. In response to which she said she will be back but then never came again.

This is a common scenario in our health care delivery system where there might be a trained service provider, the service might also be free of cost but many of the setting has seen to provide all the services in the maternal and child health clinics where there is a continuous flow of antenatal women’s, clients requiring family planning, children’s coming to receive vaccination and so on. The infrastructures are made in such a way that there are not enough rooms for the expansion of any services.

In our society, where a woman is implied different stigmas and myths about abortion, we can just imagine how much hurdles she has to pass on before she finally approaches a health facility. And if this “she” is an unmarried female client, in the absence of separate Abortion service room makes it very difficult to access the services particularly to young unmarried program.

BREACH IN CONFIDENTIALITY:

 When women come to access services, the only hope she has is with service provider where she truly believes that the service provider will be empathetic and the entire process will be highly confidential. Every woman has the right to confidentiality and it is the responsibility of the service provider to maintain it. Even in the incident that I shared earlier, the reason she turned away from the service was because she felt threat to her confidentiality. I am not criticizing all the service providers here, because there are some role models who follow the code of ethics strictly and a true source of inspiration. However, still there are some who do not leave a single chance to mimic, criticize, taunt and hurt the client. Some of our fellow workers are busy gossiping about the details of the client, her various circumstances or her character. The girls and women are left with no choice but turn back and pursue unsafe abortion secretly rather than being victimized again.images (1)

 

JUDGMENTAL ATTITUDE OF PROVIDERS

There are ample of incidents where I remember where providers taunt service seekers particularly young women for being irresponsible in their sexual activity and blame them for the unwanted pregnancy when they come to access the services. This is the major barrier for effective service deliveries as providers can act as the gatekeepers of the services. We might have trained personnel in the techniques but their personal values and beliefs might conflict with that of providing abortion. This is because providers are also the product of patriarchal society where abortion is stigmatized.

Every judgmental provider increases the chances of unsafe abortion particularly in young women.  The medical and nursing curriculum should have an understanding of gender, patriarchy and values clarification to create sensitized provider.

 

While the world is still grieving with the deaths occurring due to unsafe abortion, let’s not make this situation even worse. As, providers let’s take an oath today to perform our duty with ethics placing our personal values, judgments and sentiments apart. Also, policy makers and supporting organization should focus on developing infrastructures at every level and also sensitize providers through training like Youth Advocacy Institute and value clarification sessions. As, youth champions, I have realized the utmost importance of such training and refreshers. Let’s ensure from today that every woman counts and no women would be discouraged and turned back from our door!! Let’s not force any women to place her life and health in danger. Let’s debunk the myth that health care provider are against safe abortion. But prove those health care providers are the leading advocate for access to safe abortion.

REFERENCES:

1) Government of Nepal, Ministry of Health, Department of Health Services, Abortion utilization data 20112016 (Kathmandu: Department of Health Services, 2016).  Available at http://dohs.gov.np/publications. 

 2) World Health Organization, Maternal mortality in 19902015 (Geneva: World Health Organization, 2015)

 3)  J. Henerson, M. Puri, M. Blum, et al., “Effects of abortion legalization in Nepal, 2001–2010,” PLoS ONE (2013), p. e64775.

 4) CREHPA, Reproductive health research policy brief no. 16, “Expanding safe abortion access: concerted efforts needed to overcome existing barriers “, April 2011.

5) Wan JU WU, Maru, Kiran Regmi and Indira Basnet, Health and Human Rights Journal, “Abortion care in Nepal, 15 years after legalization: Gaps in Acess, Equity and Quality”, June 6, 2017 vol 19, No. 1

Edited by: Smriti Thapa

 

Patriarchy In Education

Patriarchy In Education

Written by: Homendra Sah

Patriarchy is an ideology in which the sole authority is vested with just one gender i.e. male, leaving behind all others in exploitation and deprivation. Well, I was aware of this so-called hierarchical social construct since my primary education. However, only after participating in the Youth Advocacy Institute (YAI) organized by Youth CAN, I was able to comprehend that this ethically erroneous patriarchal mentality does not just apply to power, politics, social responsibility and authority interest, but it has also been rooted into the very basic needs of our modern civilization – EDUCATION.

Now, when I observe the daily social phenomenon through gender lens; the same thoughts, beliefs, practices and customs which I assumed to be absolutely rational since my childhood are clearly full of loopholes. They are biased on the ground of patriarchy in every sector including education, a fundamental need of our generation.

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In our community, from the birth of the child, the parents and relatives have a tendency to decide what their children will do in the future. The sons are expected to take on the highest paid job and noble profession of the society, whereas girls are expected to have a good cooking and nurturing skills. If someone suggests any career options for the girl it is usually a nurse, teacher or a tailor.

In the patriarchal system, boys and girls are not provided with equal exposure, opportunities and resources. The patriarchy takes a hold of the future of every girl f6b4b670-631b-46da-acc1-33336b466359beginning from the birth. As they grow up, girls are restricted from indulging in activities like sports, adventure, advocacy and competitions. Unlike boys, the girls are not allowed to roam outside the house for a long, they are also suggested to be shy, soft spoken and not have much interaction with new people. The irony of patriarchy is that the people with biased intent like this are the one to claim later that girls physically weak, shy, naive about the society and not capable enough to compete with boys.

The patriarchal domination begins at birth and amplifies with growing age. The reality of this discrimination is apparent when we scrutinize the life course of a male and a female sibling. At the age of three, a son is gifted with notebook and pencils as a stereotypes-620x349reminder for them to pursue the dreams of education and high paid job as decided by the parents at his birth. On the other hand, the daughter is gifted with dolls and toys as a symbol of beauty, care and nurture. A son is beaten up if he refuses to go to school while a daughter is not sent to school even if she wishes to. Renowned and extravagant English medium schools are chosen for the son and if the daughter is fortunate enough to get an access to education, she is sent to government school or local private school. The discrimination however doesn’t look incongruous to anyone because our patriarchal society has been built up like this since ages and it appears quite lucid to us.

In this modern society, where we advocate so much for girl’s education, these siblings, stock-photo-gender-discrimination-in-education-girls-are-getting-discriminated-when-it-comes-to-academic-612241805representing the two gender of the society, have a different fate. With the growing age and need for better prospects, the boy gets to go to the capital city to face the fierce competition for best education and job opportunities while the daughter can’t even imagine to have such privilege as being a female she is not expected to live a life in absence of guardianship. The boy gets chances to interact with diverse community within and outside the nation while the girl is limited within the same community, under the same restrictions. She is not expected to talk with or have any kind of friendship with boys, she is not allowed to go out at nights and has an added responsibility of assisting in household chores.

For higher studies, the boy as decided at his birth, is expected, convinced or even forced to pursue the tough competition of MBBS, Engineering, CA or some other noble professions irrespective of his academic potential.  Whereas his sister, who even though constantly has got good academic performance, may be forced to terminate her academic journey for various reasons like financial crisis, marriage proposals etc. Even if the parents are supportive enough for her career, the discipline of her career will be decided by the parents according to the patriarchal mindset of the society.LindsaySchuring129-1000x795

The biasness enforces these two siblings, born from same parents, to lead a very different life. The boy grows up to become academically sound, verbally frank and 4010532-gender-inequality-educationentrusted with the responsibility of getting higher grades and a good job so that he can marry and take care of his wife and family in future, while the daughter grows up with good cooking skills, caring and touchy emotions, a shy nature, a beautiful face and an alluring physique along with an academic degree fair enough to be a suitable bride in the community. If we observe the journey of these two siblings, acknowledging the biasness in all the opportunities and privilege they received since birth, it does not come as a matter of surprise that we have a mismatched sex ratio in education with a far less number of female making it to the top of the competition or applying for a tough job or grabbing a higher position in a firm.

It was once said that “if you want to rule upon someone, don’t impose the domination but make them accept the inferiority instead”. Same ideology is adopted by the patriarchy where the females are manipulated, convinced and imposed, since 0c2b392aa7058b1828dc1f7da5831583birth, with the idea that males are meant to get higher education, more exposure, good jobs and are entrusted with the responsibility of becoming the breadwinner for the family while the female are meant to deliver babies, care and nurture them, run household chores and have an optimum level of education just fair enough for the husband to boast for an educated wife with no intent of making a job out of it. The society imposes these partial concept so gradually and continuously that it seems as a natural law for everyone. The whole act of domination is weaved so precisely and finely that it becomes acceptable for both of the siblings. Neither the daughter complains of her inferior treatment nor does the son thinks that he is being privileged.

Today being a son of my family and getting all those privilege, I stand and observe the society I grew up through a whole different reference frame. I have learned that this educational concept of our society has been built up on the same ground of patriarchy as other aspects of traditions, customs and social values.

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Today I salute every female out there who pursued their dreams and proved themselves of their potential, establishing themselves as a source of inspiration for millions of daughter who are still being judged for their academic potential on the basis of their sex. Hope in near future the acceptance of inferiority and act of domination comes to an end and the real freedom of humanity will lead to equal participation of all the genders in every field, where education will become the pioneer of change. Let’s take an oath that until equal sex ratio will just not be limited for census, but administered into every field of interest, our perseverance for fight against this patriarchy will continue.

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Edited by: Smriti Thapa

STEPPING INTO HER SHOES !!

STEPPING INTO HER SHOES !!

Written By : Bishal Basnet

I was extremely moved after attending this life changing training called 2nd National Youth Advocacy Institute. The richness of every concepts, ideas and discussions held during those three days are difficult to describe in meager words. Gender based differences and discrimination in our upbringing paves the way what we are and what we become. This basic concept really changed the way I perceive my surrounding.

Being from an engineering background, I realized people like me from non -medical background, are much in need to such training and informative programs. The beauty of  this youth advocacy Institute was youths from the diverse academic backgrounds, ethnicity, and residence came together in a common, non-judgmental and non-threatening platform to discuss regarding their own bodies and politics surrounding it. In this rare ambiance we not only benefited from the program but also from our own individual diversity.

One of the most powerful exercise during these three days was power walk or privilege walk. In this exercise we were given some roles to enact and asked to stand in the same line in the beginning.  Then, we were asked to step into the shoes and imagine ourselves into the roles we picked. It was such a difficult moment for me to imagine myself to be someone else even for few minutes mainly because of two reasons. First, I had to imagine myself to be completely of opposite gender and second because of the situation that woman was in.  In the end when I opened my eyes I was standing almost at the last. However, some of my friends were so ahead in the line. When analyzed, I learnt two important lessons for life:

Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place. Daniel H. Pink

Lesson 1: Although we may be taught to believe that all people are created equal, in reality many factors influence the opportunities, successes, problems, and outcomes we experience in our lives.  Because of social structures, including class and gender structures, some of us enjoy privileges that others don’t enjoy.

Unless we put ourselves into their shoes, how easy it can be at times to ‘blame the victim’ for an unhappy life situation, when in fact many other factors and persons in their life may be influencing that person’s situation?

Lesson 2: This activity also emphasized that young people are not a homogeneous group. Life experiences and opportunities or disadvantages create huge differences among various youth populations in terms of needs and desires, and interventions that are relevant to their circumstances. When we work or advocate for young people, we have to keep their differences in mind to make sure that we address the needs and opportunities of specific youth populations.

If not for YAI, I would have never realized the bitter realities of life. I would have never realized why it is not just enough to say how much we love women as our mothers, friends, sisters’, wives and daughters. But what is more important is to acknowledge the hardship they go in their life due to the existing structural inequalities. Why it is more important to respect them for who they are and who they want to be rather then telling them to fit into the societal standards? Also, to be the equal partners in the journey and vocal supporter when it comes to protecting, promoting and upholding their rights.

To sum up, YAI has awakened me to empathize the vulnerable and marginalized section of my community. I am forever indebted to the entire team of Asia Safe Abortion Partnership and Youth Champions Advocacy Nepal and my fellow youth champions for this beautiful memory of life time and making me YOUTH CHAMPION. I hope to take this trans formative journey not only in my youthful years but beyond that in the journey of life with pledge to fight against hegemony and injustice wherever I go and live.

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Edited by: Smriti Thapa

 

VIRGINITY: NOT A WOMAN’S INTEGRITY!

VIRGINITY: NOT A WOMAN’S INTEGRITY!

Written by Pramita Manandhar

I was aghast when I recently read a story of a 22 years old female who attempted suicide. Apparently when the woman failed virginity test on her wedding night, she was brutally punished by her husband. As stated on her suicide note, her husband had started mistreating her since the day of their marriage as there was no blood stain on the bed sheet after sexual intercourse.

These kinds of news are not uncommon particularly in deeply rooted patriarchal 0514f67db3900e983438314f743f45adbcbb68-wmcountry where they try to find the women’s integrity in her virginity. The myth that hymen is a proof of virginity has existed since ages and it is almost universally believed. There are two famous anatomical myth regarding virginity. The first myth: is about the blood, it tells us the hymen breaks and bleeds the first time women has vaginal sex. In other words if there was no blood in the sheet the women was simply not virgin then. The second myth: is that once the hymen breaks it disappears like it never existed.

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So what’s it the truth? The hymen is more like a rim of tissue on the outer opening of Captureasvagina. There is a lot of anatomical variation of hymen. Sometimes it can have fringes, several holes and sometimes lobes. Hymen can be can be stretched in lot of women without breaking  and a lot of women are able to handle vaginal intercourse without a damage and for other women, it may able to make a tear to make a room for penis during intercourse, physical exercises or during use of tampon but it doesn’t make it disappear.

So, what does it tells us about the above stated myths (Virgin bleed and hymen are lost forever)? Well, if you have an elastic hymen you will simply never bleed from sex. This is an anatomical impossibility and that is the case for half of the women except for the men.  In other words, some virgin bleeds and some don’t.

The truth has been found since 100 years now and also have been proved through various experiments in the medical community yet the myth perpetuates. The consequences of which,  women’s are subjected to shame, humiliation and in worst cases honor killings. In counter response, women chose surgery to repair hymen, vile of blood on bed sheet during wedding night or fake hymen itself.

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So, if there were no virginity test, is the problem solved for women? In my view, certainly not as these problems are deeply rooted in our religion and culture that have tried to control women’s sexuality since ages. Unlike boys, by glorifying virginity in girls we are making them lead a fearful and fragile life, taking away their freedom, pushing away from sports or bodily expression. It’s high time that we act against virginity fraud and debunk the myth and redefine the integrity in women.

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A couple of days ago, I was watching this movie called Simran, where the protagonist played by Kangana Ranauat tries to explain to her love interest how she has some integrity flaws in her, in response to which he assumes and states that he is very progressive and don’t mind if she had few boyfriends in her past [Watch the clip here]. In response to that she beautifully explains why that was not the integrity flaw and what she meant was her addiction in gambling and heavy drinking. This scene made me remember a real life conversation that I was part of with a girl where she was trying to explain how prestigious she is just because she doesn’t have boyfriend yet in life implying how intact her integrity is.

On the contrary, in our patriarchal society, it is a matter for shame for some men to not have sex. A virgin man is usually considered non worthy and less of a man. However, it is really surprising how men are okay with having a casual relationships with women, but when it comes to marriage, men want virgin bride who are ‘naive and pure’.

Our patriarchal society claims to modern, but when it comes to marriage, they are still traditional. People are still judging a woman by the status of her hymen. So, what does integrity mean for women? Well, Integrity has universal definition and it should mean exactly for the women what it means to every human being. Integrity is the honesty or truthfulness of one’s action, empathy and respect towards fellow humans and strong virtue and courage to stand up against hypocrisies that are against one’s right i.e human rights especially rights to enjoy freedom and expression and bodily autonomy. Let our next generation of women be defined by their true integrity of honesty, courage and empathy and not the fake virginity surrounded by the myths!

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Watch the truth about hymen and sex here

Watch ‘The Virginity Fraud’

Watch why virginity and hymen is myth

 

Edited by: Smriti Thapa