The Nepali media report at least one incident of violence against women each day. We also often come across articles on how females have been suffering for ages. Women are usually victims of domestic violence. A general village woman’s day begins before dawn and ends after every member of her family goes to bed. She only gets an occasional break when she is completely bedridden. She does not even get any credit for her never-ending household work. Instead of a word of thanks, the living machines are always scolded and beaten-up by their in-laws or spouse. A normal woman is sometimes charged of being insane or a sorceress. She cannot do anything except for cursing her fate. She dedicates all her life to serve the family and raise her children only to be rejected by her sons, and sometimes even to be charged with being a “witch” when she is old and feeble.
If we turn our conscience to explore a root cause of all these social evils, we will realize that all this is happening because of the lack of education. Nobody dares to blame an educated woman unnecessarily, at least in front of her, for she can fight back. Education is a powerful weapon that makes one aware, strong, confident, logical and capable of fighting against social injustices. In addition, it helps one gain financial independence, which is regarded as an extremely essential aspect to establish her identity.
If a woman is educated, she can educate the whole family. My mother educated herself after sending all her five children to school. As a result, all these years she has been inspiring us to move on the bright path of knowledge. My cousin sisters are still working in fields, grazing cattle or playing a role of housewives; they are living a dependent life. I sometimes shudder thinking that if our mother had not been so aware of the need for education, my position could also have been the same.
Surely, education can transform a miserable life into a wonderful, conscious and free one. If a mother is educated she can improve her children’s health and nutrition level. She can better advocate her as well as her children’s needs and rights. She can also support the family financially.
The issue of sons’ and daughters’ equal right over parental property has always been a topic for hot discussion among intellectuals. However, women do not and will not understand its significance and use in their lives unless they are educated enough to handle the subject. Expecting wealth or property from somebody does not help one to be independent. Educating women means empowering them, helping them to solve their problems by themselves and making them ready to earn their own bread and butter. Education will help women to come out from a limited home to a wider world.
Mere discussions on women’s emancipation would not bear any fruit unless and until women are educated and gain economic freedom.
(Published in an English Daily The Kathmandu Post on Tuesday, June 15, 2004)