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Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition • FSN Forum

Re: Rural women: striving for gender transformative impacts

Kala Koyu
Kala KoyuRural Enterprises and Remittances Project Nepal

There is no doubt that women face challenges in their everyday life, but the issues that rural women encounter is becoming more complex with the present day scenerio. In Nepal, the rural areas are womenised due to male out-migration. This has expand the public space of the rural women and considered as a positive impact on the women mobility and empowerment. However, this impact is short lived and now the women whose husband have migrated face social scrutiny. The temporary household head title they owned and exercised is now filled with more discrimination and public gaze. The national media bylines showcase the patriarchal mindset to report one-way adultry of women left at home. There are superhit movies that showcase the migration stories of cheating wives. And there are thousands of likes and shares to a link containing cheap storylines against women.

All these acts around us, from national media, national actors/actress to individual social site users is troublesome and also an indicator that we are not yet sensitive enough to view any problem from gender equality or we are yet proud to carry on the patriarchal norms. The problem of a rural women starts from the way she speaks, the way she dress up, the way she laughs. Not to mention with all these scrutiny, she has to carry double workload in absence of her husband.

The present programs on remittances/migration is much focused on safer migration, or channeling the remittances into prodctive investment. However, the safer migration or productive investment will not be enough to bring the change in the discrimination against women. It will just change the form of discrimination.

The economic opportunities for rural women in the present context is involving themselves in the enterpreneruship as most of the rural men are migrated. The left behind women are the sole person to look after the family, take everyday decision and manage the remittances. Thus, the biggest economic opportunity is already at our door, rural women need to realise this situatin and their own potential on how much more they can contribute. However, there are issues of public scrutiny, negative labeling to demoralise the women which needs another policy in action to discourage the immoral actions of the society.

Involving both male and female, father and mother, husband and wife, boys and daughter is the most effective approach to buycott the gender discrimination. We are emphasizing only on daughters to be strong, we are emphasizing only women to be vocal and empower, however we are lacking that how our boys need to be raised, how men need to react or how men behave to gain gender equality.

No doubt, education for girls, sensitization and empowerment of women and the family members are the first step to move towards equality. For this specific policies needs to be in action in specific to the country and the culture in addition to the international treaties. Although, Nepal has progressed in terms of girls education and gender equality compared to other southasian countries, there are still practices of lowest level of discrimation like considering impurity during menstrual period and making the girl stay in shed where she is sometimes raped, biten by snake and die. We have advanced in one form of gender equality at the same time we are not leting go off the traditional norms that discrimanates against women and their body. We advance in technology and education but we lack the wisdom on analysing our discriminatory practices and actions.