International Women's Day: Being bold for gender equalityWednesday, 8 Mar 2017
I am Rekha Rana. Primarily, I am an individual person, but I am also a mother, wife, daughter, and a citizen of Nepal. I believe that I am a caring, friendly and fun-loving person!
I work as Gender Equity and Social Inclusion (GESI) Coordinator at Options implementing DFID-funded programmes for the Government of Nepal. I am passionate about the work that I do to bring about a positive change in the lives of women and girls.At a personal level, I am also a mother of two young and rapidly growing daughters who have a working mother, which is a good thing as they need to see strong female role models in our society.
What does 'be bold for change' mean to you?
“Be bold for change” means the ability to be the best version of one’s true self. It requires being able to know, expect and demand the effort needed to achieve the goals to bring about meaningful changes, for one’s self and others around you. It is also about having the guts to say NO to prejudice, inequality, and violence against women and girls. Overall, it is an assertiveness and confidence to fight for principles and beliefs for achieving the goals that you set out, for bringing about positive changes in society.
Tell us about a time where you've had to be 'bold'/ what is your boldest achievement?
As a working woman, I feel that there hasn’t been many moments when I have not been bold I know that boldness has power and it can open-up possibilities. In a patriarchal society, where women become the victims as well as the perpetrators, sometimes, of patriarchal methods of control and submission, boldness is required even to pursue the simplest of things. My boldest achievement was when I became a mother for the first time. It was when I realized that I was born for the second time with my child. It was quite a feeling to experience motherhood, especially after going through an emotionally volatile and physically painful pregnancy period. Although it might seem personal to talk about giving birth as a bold act, it should be recognised as such.
What challenges to being 'bold for change' do you face in your country?
There are tremendous challenges to being bold in Nepal. For a woman, it is not easy to fight gender role expectations, aswomen are considered second class human beings, not just citizens, but in all walks of life for the society is deeply rooted in patriarchal dogmas.If women speak out, they are seen as “too bold,” which has a negative connotation in our society. Bold women are seen as out to destroy society, not to reform it. However, gradually, changes are taking place. Old age notions of binary construction of male and female and caste based prejudices are changing. Nonetheless, challenges are everywhere. But then there are possibilities also. Thus, it will require many of us to be bolder to bring about the necessary changes.
What bold actions would you like other people to take, to see a more inclusive, gender equal world?
Despite being cognisant of the prejudices and injustices in our surrounding, many of us still choose to remain silent or ignore them simply because of fear –fear of failing, fear of closing options, fear of being mocked, fear for the future. But I believe that we must be bold enough to ignore the naysayers of society. We must be bold enough to go against the prevailing wisdom, which often serves the status quo in society. Social inclusion can come about only through persistent practice of inclusion. We need to be bold and strong enough to stand by the oppressed or stand alone, if required. Nothing less will do. Once we realise these simple rules and practice them, there might be changes. Furthermore, I believe that we should encourage men as well to be bold and stand shoulder to shoulder with women and support them boldly to bring about gender equality for all.