Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Education, a must to empower adolescent girls

I often find my father – now in his 60s – berating my mom for very simple reasons, like he did not like the way she spoke, she spent a minute more in the temple or at the shop than the previous days, and many more trivial issues.

If she wants to speak out, then every single word she uses first has to get a permit pass. And when her words do get the green signal, she gets scolded for missing out some conjunctions or articles in her sentence even before she’s finished what she had wanted
to say. She has to do according to what he says. Stand, speak, eat only when asked, or else remain like a statue.

In short, my mom’s life is completely dictated by my father.

At this point, what I believe is, had she been independent and had a job of her own, that too, well before getting married, she wouldn’t have seen this day in her 50s. Although educated and a topper in her class—excellent in both academics and extracurricular activities—she landed up doing nothing but household chores.

Polishing the husband’s shoes, massaging an in-law’s legs, offering free services to every other family member and in return getting bitter remarks for all her works became her daily routine.

I’m not being negative about household chores, but her life being dictated, dominated and demoralized is my concern.

Such incidents with my mother make me think that marriage ruins everything. But, on a deeper level, I guess economic dependency is the culprit. ‘Monetary crisis,’ as I’ve seen, read and experienced, is the major factor that causes family disputes and violence and often the victims are women.

Until and unless girls, who grow up to become women, wives and mothers, are socially, mentally, politically and economically independent, such plights – like those of my mother’s – are to be repeated. Then this story will no longer belong to my mother alone but to all those women who are completely dependent on their husbands.
Be it wealthy families or mediocre ones, the culture of dominating the wife exists in one form or the other. Unless these women don’t have a strong academic background, this deep-rooted ‘tradition’ cannot be uprooted.

It is only education that helps girls speak out against what wrongs are being done to them. They can then raise their voices against violence and harassment. They can start campaigns, file petitions against their abusers and teach these wrongdoers a few lessons.

In addition to these, education helps them pursue careers of their choices and become financially independent.

Thus, empowering adolescent girls through academic education, further technical and vocational teaching and training as well as enabling them with life skills, social support, knowledge and participation at this particularly vulnerable stage of their lives can help end the cycle of violence before it persists or begins.

The government should also be able to formulate strong laws in favor of women. Isn’t it sad, however, that despite claiming to provide equal rights to all of its citizens, Nepal’s Constitution is still biased against women in terms of inheritance and citizenship rights?

Therefore, simply introducing rules and regulations won’t change anything. First of all, the society should collectively work to bringing an end to violence against women.

For this to happen, participation of everyone makes a lot of positive difference. Active male participation is a must, too.

Stopping violence against women should not just be limited to our discussions; actions are needed.

Unless women are educated, healthy, and independent, the family as a whole won’t flourish and violence against women will never come to an end.

And in case you have doubts as to when and how to start taking steps for the changes, I would like to cite the Hollywood actor Emma Watson from her speech she made during the recent launching of her ‘HeForShe’ campaign at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, USA:

“Ask for yourself, if not me, who, if not now, when?”

The writer is an undergraduate student of Electronics and Communication Engineering at Kantipur Engineering College in Dhapakhel, Lalitpur.

source:PRAGYA POKHREL , republica,11 oct 2014