Social system apart, the attitude of parents towards bringing up their children basically moulds the next generation. Of late, a positive trend has emerged where parents' support is not only limited to providing education and economic support but also to prepare them to lead a balanced life. Unmoved by the age-old practices of neglecting their daughter in preference to sons, the new age moms and dads are using their resources and as a result, there are women who have not only competed against men but also outsmarted them in various fields.
But still this success story is limited to very few as we are caught between traditional value and spread of modernism. The result is many women are caught in webs of wife-beating, uncaring husbands, dowry harassments, depression etc, and it becomes difficult to decide "whom to blame." Why are parents in haste to get rid of their daughters in the name of marriage? Once daughters get married, parents shrug off their responsibility as marriage is supposed to be an end in itself and not a means to sustain life.
Regrettably, this happens even in our capital city itself where there is certain degree of freedom for women to pursue their career and life-style as they want. But only some of them get the requisite support to do so, while the rest have to follow the choice of their guardians or face stiff opposition.
For policy-makers, women's rights have been a subject of concern. In contemporary society, the role of women has changed drastically. The typical housewives who cater to all the household requirements, including rearing and upbringing of children in various sub-roles of wife, daughter-in-law, mother, mother-in-law, etc have played a significant role. But a change in socio-economic and cultural aspects has begun to show a deep impact on the society. This has further added responsibilities and widened the role of women, who also share financial burden. The Kathamandu woman's case cannot be seen in isolation. Other members of the extended family do not support women in their endeavor to work as responsible women. There are instances in which an unemployed husband, instead of helping her and making sure that family runs smoothly, turns out to be alcoholic and her mother-in-law tortures her for dowry.
The incidents of wife battering and harassment for dowry are common. But in most cases, things are sorted out by the pressure groups that include parents from both sides. With a few compromises and patch-ups, the couples decide to lead their life amicably, and in course of time, the situation turns out to be normal.
There is little doubt that Nepali women have come of age, thanks to changing socio-economic dynamics. The fact that the number of employed and self-employed women is increasing is a testimony to the fact that they have taken a big stride. However, they have still to go far to achieve a respectable social status. For this to happen, a long-drawn strategy is needed. After all, women's empowerment does not occur easily or overnight. (TKP, March 17, 2007)