Nepal’s journey to equality has been carved by women who resisted oppression, discrimination and marginalization. For example, Yogmaya Neupane, a spiritual leader and social reformer, famously ended her life along with 68 of her followers in protest against the social conditions of her times by jumping into the wild floods of the river Arun. Her protest was directed against the social practices that had been highly divided along gender and caste hierarchies. Nepalese women, at different times, have pushed for changes around them, winning small battles, one at a time. Their stories of struggle for equality have inspired many women after them and have a great impact on supporting conversations about gender equality and gender justice.
It is in this context that FES Nepal set out to identify and share stories of young Nepalese women from diverse backgrounds to explore what gender equality means in their day-to-day life. Their stories are collected in the Nepalese anthology Samanataka Sapanaharu: Nepali Mahilaka Sangharsha ra Aashaka Kathaharu (Dreams of Equality: Stories of struggle and aspirations). The inspiring stories featured in the publication were then visualized and showcased in coordination with Shilpee Theatre Group, performed by team of all-female actors.
The drama opens with the story of Asmita Badi, a Badi woman (Dalit from the Hill region) whose dream has been to break down the walls of the caste system and untouchability. Her dream is a story of liberating oneself from humiliation, of finding self-courage and boosting ones’ self-esteem.
The drama also depicts the inspiring story of Saman Iqbal Siddiqui a Muslim woman who has been living her dream of playing badminton. Even though turning her dream into reality was not a smooth ride for her. She had to break patriarchal and cultural norms, but she could always count on the support of her parents. Then there is the story of Indu Tharu. A story of liberation of a woman living through the decade long armed conflict during the Maoist insurgency in Nepal.
These stories represent the stories of courage, bravery and enthusiasm of young women in Nepal who are determined to transform their lives. Their dreams are also part of an ongoing struggle to build a more just and equitable society. They are real life examples of what equality means – something we often only talk about in rather abstract terms.
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