Breaking the glass ceiling

Sabitri Dhakal

Sabitri Dhakal

Breaking the glass ceiling

The United Nations is celebrating this year’s International Women’s Day under the theme DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality this year.

Sabitri Dhakal of ApEx caught up with some of the women, who have made their marks in different sectors. They shared their triumphs, tribulations and plans for the big day.

Ayasha Shakya, taekwondo player

The day brings attention to the women’s rights movement, gender equality issues, women’s reproductive rights and women’s achievements in various fields. But rather than recognizing women and their work on this particular day, it would be better if we could celebrate their works and achievements each day. Everyone in the society, be it the children, adults or the elderly should recognize the works and understand that women are special and can achieve like men.

I have no plans for the Day as I am recovering from an injury.

The day makes the woman at least feel good because it is a holiday for them. People should understand that women too need rest and time.   

Muna Ghimire Shrestha, heavy equipment operator

People have stereotypes about women. They think women are weak and cannot handle machines. If given proper education and training, there is no such work that a woman cannot do. The works should not be stereotyped. On this women’s day, I encourage Nepali women to learn skills and work for their economic independence rather than going abroad, only to face difficulties. If you work hard, success will follow you.

I think the celebration of this big day is city-centric. To address the issues of women, the voices of women living in rural areas should also be heard. If we can bring to light the issues of women living in rural areas, then the real problem of women will be visible. The problems facing women should be discussed and resolved through policy intervention.  

Jaya Dhakal Guragain, principal, educator

The works done by women should be recognized and honored. There should be support for a woman from all – family, colleagues and colleagues.

Though things are changing for the better, the challenges facing women still remain. Being in the profession mostly handed by men, I feel there are challenges facing a woman at the workplace. Unsupportive colleagues are the main problems. I have experienced competitive feelings in males when a woman reaches a leadership position. Also people try to humiliate a female if she is in a leadership position because they cannot stand it. But one must not be deterred.  Instead of celebrating the day and recognizing women’s work, if colleagues, family and society become helpful for women, they can achieve much more in life. Also there should be a proper and equal pay scale for women.

I will be celebrating the day staying at home, giving time for myself.

Rabina Shrestha, math teacher

Mathematics has been described as a difficult subject. I grew up hearing that a girl cannot solve math problems like a boy. But I was always interested in mathematics and thought of making a career by teaching the subject.

There is a stereotypical thinking that a female teacher cannot handle teenage children at school. But it is not so. If you have proper teaching skills and knowledge about the subject matter, you can effectively handle the classroom.

Celebrating the International Women’s Day is acknowledging the works and achievement of women and highlighting the issues of women. There should be equality and no discrimination on the basis of gender.  

Dr Sangeeta Mishra, women’s health activist

Women’s health has been ignored in the country. We have not been talking about issues like gender-based violence and mental health of women. All these issues inspired me to work as a woman health activist.

Being a woman in the male dominating profession is challenging. There are rooms filled with males and you will be the single woman in the room. They expect you not to speak. But you can’t sit without speaking. But when you speak, they don’t take you seriously. If you try to enforce some of the ideas, then you are labeled as being a man. You face different levels of challenges once you reach a certain position. There is an unseen glass ceiling but one must break it. Women should be included in decision-making and forming policies, including those related to women.

If we are to change the lives of women, we should work from zero. We are looking for women who can talk and work, while there are very few such women. Women, who can speak for the unseen women, are lacking.

We celebrate women’s day every year under different themes. We must work the whole year on such themes to bring changes in the lives of women. The women must face direct competition. I will be working for a conference on women’s health on the big day.

Bhoj Kumari Shahu, chef

Though cooking in the households is done mostly by women, cooking in restaurants and hotels is done by men. This is because of the lack of faith in women’s capabilities. I was encouraged by my brother to study hotel management. I got interested in cooking and also took training. Working in a kitchen with 75 males was challenging for me. People speak rough words, touch you knowingly/unknowingly. But if you want to carry on, you need to adjust and act like a man. You can’t give excuses every time. You must work together.  

The message I would like to give to women is look at women who have challenged the stereotypical society and work to bring changes.

Gyanu Adhikari, writer

I used to be excited about International Women’s Day earlier. I used to feel that it would inform people about women’s issues and rights. Looking at the current scenario, I feel the information has not reached the country’s targeted population. We have not been able to raise awareness on the issue.

I think the issues should be dealt with as per the geographical locations because we can’t decide everything from Kathmandu.

There are multiple challenges for women when it comes to working with men. There is male ego. They don’t show it but it can be felt in their behavior. Women are still considered secondary. We need to work together with men. Avoiding them or running away from them won’t help. The women must show their skills and potential; only then will people believe them. Women can reach higher positions if they work hard.

Archana Aryal, homemaker

Being a homemaker is challenging. You need to take care of your children, manage finances, take responsibilities and give up your career. Homemaking was my choice. Seeing my children grow up, I feel satisfied.

But the society does not regard the household chores as proper work. I think women’s work inside houses should be acknowledged. They are never paid and acknowledged for the work they do.

If the families just share the burden of household chores, I think many women will heave a sigh of relief. I have no specific plans for the day. It will just be a normal day for me. 

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