The other day my elder sister told me a touching story about a lady who was inhumanly dominated by her authoritative husband. The lady, who happened to be one of our relatives, had no say in her family. Her husband was the sole decision-maker and he did not give her a single credit for her 15-year long contribution to build up a cosy home. The lady relative of ours is a reminder of a large number of Nepali women who suffer a similar fate in the hands of their husbands.
Nepali society is male-dominated and male chauvinism is largely due to a wife’s financial dependence upon her husband. The cunning and clever husband always tries to make the wife realize that she cannot survive without him. The wife is deprived of the right to make choices and that she is forced to do whatever her husband instructs her to do. On the contrary, a man cannot live without a woman. There are numerous examples of single women successfully running their household. However, there are rare cases of men handling the household alone. Men are always privileged in our society. Although they are pretty aware of their weaknesses, they never reveal them in front of their wives. They always pretend to be superior. The pathetic women, who feel they are really weak, have no right to interfere.
The females must be conscious of their potentials; they must think of ways to make themselves independent. Every woman must earn at least to support herself and her children. The chance of domestic violence is much lesser in houses where women earn.
Once I happened to talk to a lady grocer. She told me that she fought a lot with her husband at a time she was jobless. After sometime, she was fed up and decided to sell vegetables. In the process, she gained her confidence, self-respect and profound love from her husband. And, all of a sudden, the fighting stopped.
If a woman explores her field of interest and starts working, she can successfully establish herself. There are many skill-oriented training centres for woman empowerment. They provide various training programs that could help women gain financial independence.
Women’s liberation is almost impossible without financial independence. I still remember what my father told me in a letter a couple of years ago “…these days people talk about women’s freedom but they can never be free unless and until they gain financial independence… “. I believe my father wanted to encourage me indirectly to be self-reliant first before thinking about my freedom. And now, as I see the sufferings of women, I understand the deep meaning of those words.
Sharma is a visiting faculty member at the Kathmandu University