Today I met few Dalit women from Godamchaur, a suburb of Lalitpur district. They came to Women Training Centre in Jawalakhel (urban part of Lalitpur) to participate in an interaction with the government officials. The program was organized under FLOW project with the aim of discussing on the ‘Effectiveness of Targeted Budget in Dalit Communities’. The interacted with great enthusiasm with the representatives from government ( Social development officer, officers from the Lalitpur sub-metropolitan) and the leaders of the major political parties in Lalitpur. It was very interesting to see how the language of entitlement has changed into rights and duty. Women were not only aware about their rights, but also about what they wanted from the political parties and government officials.
However, more interesting was their act when the program was finished. FEDO has organized lunch boxes for women. These women who were always delighted with the food and ate it up with great gusto as they go it, today stashed it into their bags. I was very surprised and asked them if they didn’t like the food? Their answer hit me. It made me think of the intensity of problem of gender discrimination in our society and our little efforts to address it. The woman I asked said, “We hardly get time to get out of our houses, therefore we are going to see the Jatra”. She hurriedly followed her friends out of the room.
Her statement made me disillusioned on the profundity of the work that still needs to be done to achieve what we have set to achieve; to give them a sense of freedom and independence. Here we are training women to make them leaders of their community, region and ultimately of the nation. And surprisingly many of them have been nominated from their as the candidate for upcoming constituent assembly from Proportional Representation election system. They have proved their skill of critical thinking when they raised their issues confidently with the reps different structures. However, they are still fettered with the drudgery of their household. These women are overloaded with quadruple work load; productive, reproductive, community and now constituency. They are struggling to keep up in all these fronts. But the sad and most challenging part is that the societal mindset that wants to see women within the domestic sphere. Women although have the potential to be the community leaders still have to comply with this societal expectations. With all these chains attached to them, they have achieved so much. I wonder what would it be like if they were freed from these chains and given wings to fly!!