photo of person from Nepal Sindhulpalchok
Nepal glossary








Hindu, Brahmin




Sindhukot, Sindhupalchok


February 1994



Section 1
How many people are there in your family?
Three of us. My mother, my little daughter and myself.

How old is your mother?
She is 70 now.

How old is your daughter?
6 months.

When were you married?
I was married in April, 1991.

What do you do for your living?
Living; we have a few fields and a little backyard garden. We get a little millet from it and a little maize. We consume those. I work as a teacher and earn some income. Thus, I am supporting the living of our family of the three.

How long have you worked as a teacher?
For five years now.

What standard did you pass to be appointed as a teacher?
I passed SLC (School Leaving Certificate) and thereafter, I become a teacher.

So, when did you pass the SLC?
In 1988.

From where did you get the inspiration to study?
The inspiration to study… my father used to live in Kathmandu. I used to go there. Having no sons and seeing girls being sent to school there (in Kathmandu) he must have decided to send me to school. I also became interested and I began to study. Er… as I was studying… there weren't many girls there, nevertheless, my father did not allow me to drop my studies. Many marriage offers were brought to me but my father did not consent to them and let me carry on with my studies. After I passed the SLC, my father died.

When did your father die?
My father died in 1988.
Section 2
At what age?
He died at the age of 66.

From what disease?
Previously, he did not have any big disease. Er… he could work pretty well. There was not any particular ailment be was suffering from. Then he complained of common cold and eventually the common cold which he caught on 15 Jan, 1988, it got very serious eight days later. Then he left us.

Are there any brothers and sisters from your father's family?
I don't have any brothers in my family. Only four of us sisters.

I mean how many of them were born before you?
Nine of them, two brothers and seven sisters.

Who of the seven, two brothers, I mean when did they die?
They died at the time of birth.

But how? I mean after they were born?
When they were born, they were dead, now they say dead at birth.

Both of them?
Both of them.

And what about two sisters?
Similar case with the two sisters. They were the five children of my mother. The twins were born dead. Just like that.

How much land do you have now for support living?
All I have now is 2 hals of land to grow maize. That is all. Nothing else.

How much harvest do you get from the 2 hal of land?
We get 5-6 muris of maize, millet, if grown well, up to 7-8 muris, about 2 or 3 muris of wheat. We grow three crops a year. Three crops in part of the land. The other one hal of land yields only two crops a year-maize and millet only.

How many months do the cereals last?
The cereals are just sufficient for us for 12 months.

Just sufficient?
Just sufficient.

Okay, say you get sufficient food for a year from your land. The other things like new clothes for festivities, salt, oil... how do you manage with them?
Well, from the teaching I do, I meet the requirements like clothing and celebrating festivals.

At present how much monthly/yearly salary do you draw?
At present I work in Mahendra Primary School, Dhuseni and today onwards I am being transferred to Kalika Primary School, Sindhukot. Regarding my salary, I draw Rs. 1550 per month. Provident fund and the like included. I am entitled to Rs. 1869.
Section 3
How far back do you recall hearing about matters relating to women?
What could I know when I was very young. However, I have heard quite a lot from my mother. On my part concerning women, I began running 1 or 2 Kaksha (Women Service Classes) in 1983. Although I did not experience the hardships of women previously, I have been hearing about them from a long ago and I feel sad about it. Hence what I have been doing and showing them is about women's grievances and sorrows.

What particular sorrow or problems are women facing now?
Foremost, and obviously, women are deprived of education. Most of them have never had the opportunity to study. In our hilly regions the family is full of children. The convention is to send the sons to school while the daughters are made to attend to domestic chores like collecting fodder and looking after the young ones. If they are sent to school, barely they reach the age of 15 and then they are considered ripe for marriage. In their own homes they are considered 'strangers' who must one day attend to the care of another's home. So, they are sent away like buffaloes and are not allowed to do anything except to collect fodder and other daily chores. They have to live under reduced circumstances always wondering if they will be given enough to feed and clothe themselves. This is our main problem when living in another house.

Why did they have to stay even under such circumstances?
They had to stay under the restriction for the fear of the society. In fact we had considered the notion of going forward in the society. Maybe we could have succeeded. But it has not been done so in this society allow this?

Why wouldn't the society allow this?
The society thinks these are women. They are born to collect fodder and execute household chores. The men are the ones to study. Such is the nation and hence the consequences.

Within your village, the Sindhukot VDC, how many women are literate?
In Sindhukot VDC, they should amount to around 30%.

30% of the women go to school?
But of the 30%, [most] have not passed the SLC. Anyway, that many have enrolled in class 1 and class 2. Then some leave school after passing class 5 and some leave after joining class 6. This is the way things are. So when it comes to SLC, only 2 or 3% go so far as to do the SLC exams.

In your village, how many women have passed the SLC up to now?
In our village, there must be about 4 or 5 women who have passed the SLC. But 3 or us have definitely passed the exams, 4 have just given the exams and 2 are to give the exams.
Section 4
How many have passed the sent-up (test)?
7/8 women have passed the sent-up (test).

The women who have passed the SLC, what are they doing?
Among the SLC passers, I am one of the them, and working as a teacher. A colleague who passed in my batch, Renuka Sigdel, she is now working at Sindhukot health post. There is a sister Radhika, she has gone to Kathmandu to study in college. She has done the SLC, but not passed.

Now let us consider a rural community in our Nepalese society, what discrimination do you find between men and women?
From the legal point of view, they are said to be equal, but there is much discrimination. For instance women are always engaged in their chores, collecting fodder, cleaning the cowsheds and the like. Once they go to another's (husband's house), there is the compulsion to work. The convention is to consider women as born to go to another's and therefore no importance is attached to providing their education. On the other hand men are allowed better to study. They number higher when it comes to employment. In any institution there are more men, only a few women. And if they are working, whether in any institutions or schools, they are looked down upon. They say, such and such girls are not decent. They accuse the women of immoral acts. Thus they are compelled to stand back. This discourages the women to work in institutions for fear of failure.

Both son and daughters should be sent to school. What are the reasons behind parents discrimination between them?
Rather than the parents, it is the long-rooted convention of the society. If it had been, from the past, usual practice to send girls to school, it would be the same care now. The society simply doesn't know if there is any benefit in sending girls to school. Just because the girls have to one day go to another house, whereas the boys will stay with his own home forever. So educating the boy is regarded as being beneficial. In addition if girls are educated they are feared to develop immoral acts. From these considerations, the society has discouraged girls from becoming educated.

So the notion that educated girls develop immoral conduct, is it the sheer speculation of the parents or have such cases really occurred?
There are one or two cases as far as rumours are concerned, we haven't seen such occurrences. But whatever they (the girls) have done, it is at their own will. [The narrator is referring to inter-cultural love affairs probably leading to matrimonial ties]. But the society accuses them because they have not considered the right [ethnic group]. Contrary to the society, convention about caste system and the like, the educated girls can decide what and who is right for their future. So they choose their own partners. This in turn, is accused by the society as immoral act. The accusation is not justified.

In your opinion, what should be done to make people understand the facts that girls need to be educated, they have a right to education?
We should make it understood that girls have a right to education at their will and they should be educated. To do that we should send our daughters to school. Then they must be allowed to marry according to their own choice, such an illustration must be deemed correct. Even the constitution allows them to decide on their own. So if such cases are condemned by the society, the educated and the wise, though a handful they are, should stand up against the society and preach that it is right to do what the girls have done, that they themselves can shape their future. If we could do this, women's rights could eventually be understood.
Section 5
What would be an effective method of illustrating it?
The effective method is to pay 2 or 4 people (wise ones) to come together and acknowledge that such cases are good and take necessary action if the circumstances called for it. We should teach the villagers to send girls to school. To let them know that the decisions educated girls make are not wrong, we should bring forward cases of the world at large. We should lucidate the toils of girls who have not been educated and the easy lives of girls who have been educated. By highlighting, the contrast of the two cases, maybe some light will dawn on them.

In our society, how do women assign their small children to work, nowadays?
Women assign their small children first and foremost, they (the children) look after their younger brothers and sisters. Secondly, they go and collect fodder after getting up in the morning. They look after the domestic animals, take them to graze. In the mornings and evenings, they assist in the domestic chores like washing the dishes and utensils and clay-washing the fireplace. Such tasks are assigned to the girls.

Within the 24 hrs, how many hours do women work?
Within the 24 hours, they are busy working about 18 hours. From dawn until late in the evening till all the household chores are finished. They have to be busy. They can only get 6 hours for sleeping.

What about men?
They don't work more than 12 hours. There is a difference of almost 6 working hours.

What is the reason that women have to work more then men?
The reason, after getting up in the morning, the house has to be washed with clay and cow dung mixture. After the evening meal, other household chores have to be performed. The rooms have to be swept, the men's beds must be made. All these tasks have been assigned to the women by the society. That is why women work more and men work less.

What is your opinion on this?
In my opinion, this is absolutely wrong. Because men and women have equal rights, women are human like men, men can make their beds themselves to sleep. They can sweep their rooms themselves. It is not right that only women should cook meals. Men can also cook meals. These are the points I am not happy about.

What would be right to revolutionise the thing you are not happy about?
In our hills and countryside, it is simply impossible to revolutionise these things. The reason is the long-rooted convention and norm of the society. The nation exists in our village - that all the tasks are for the women. It is futile for one or two people to speak for the rights, therefore, the wise women must understand this. They most show the society what is right. The men also must acknowledge the fact that men and women have equal rights.
Section 6
How many institutions/organisation have been established for the cause of women's development and awareness?
We have an organisation called ActionAid which stands for women's development, in Sindhukot VDC. It is working for women's income saving and for their keeping of animals and fowls. It is running adult literacy classes for women. It has opened such classes in a number of places.

What changes have been brought about by the running of women adult literacy classes and income saving groups?
We have learnt that if need arises in the future to invert for a purpose or for emergency purposes, money can be drawn from the group. The next thing, from the adult literacy classes: the ignorant women have learnt what education is and why it is necessary. They don't have to print thumb marks instead of signatures any more. They have already learnt to make signatures. They acquire a certain degree of awareness that they must study and let their children learn. Incidentally, I have run 3-4 adult literacy classes. From this, I have learnt that women acquire a degree of awareness and pay attention to hygiene. They also pay attention to studies and learn that they must have their children study at home as well. They understand it is necessary to give girls as much education as the boys.

Up to now, how many women have studied in these adult literacy classes?
Up to now about 100 women in our village have studied.

What differences have occurred after adult literacy education compared to the ignorance prior to these classes?
In our experience, there have been many changes after the education. In the beginning, we used to plead to them to take the classes. They would refuse to. They sent only their sons to school; they sent their daughters to collect fodder or told them to look after the growing ones. They did not know anything about child hygiene. They did not know about saving. In contrast, after the literacy education, they can now read, make signatures, they send their children to school. They pay attention to hygiene and they now understand the necessity to save. Thus they have unified into a savings group.

How many women's saving groups are there in your VDC?
There are eight.

When were they established?
They were established in 1988. The women save money and food grains in the saving group. Some contribute their part monthly, some contribute at every harvest at the rate of one pathi. In the case of money, they contribute 5 rupees a month. At present, 12,000 rupees to 15,000 rupees have been collected in the women's group.

What difference have you found after the introduction of the saving group?
They have learnt that it is useful to save, it is necessary to save. Before the introduction of the classes they used to think there was no use in piling up money in a place. Now they say that it is for their own sake.
Section 7
What have they done from the saving group?
They have deposited some of the money in a bank and some of the money they have invested in keeping goats, pig farming and poultry farming. They are having benefits from it as well. The group charges a 20% interest rate per annum. The loans are being refunded in due time. The saving group's income is increasing because of the interest. This in turn lets them make bigger investments.

After beginning to save, what differences have you found in the thinking and the lifestyle of the women?
From a position in which they could not even buy one goat, they are now having the facility which enables them to keep goats, or do other income-generating activities.

What differences are found in the women's dignity and standing after becoming a member of the savings group?
Formerly, men folk used to think that women were not able to do anything and that they (the women) had to be fed and clothed by the men. Now that the women have engaged themselves in income generating activities and are making profits, their dignity has increased markedly.

What difference have you found in the condition of women in Sindhukot VDC
10 years earlier and now?
Previously, there weren't any educated women at all. Now a lot of them have been educated. A lot of them are, as you can see, forming saving groups. The women have learnt that in other parts of the country, women are studying. So they too must study. The members of the saving group have learnt the necessity for saving. By seeing some educated women being employees as teachers, they have learnt that they too can get employed if they become educated. They have learnt the necessity for educating girls. There is a big difference now.

What is the trend like of women going out of station for earning?
In this place, there is the trend of going away to earn. Yes. In the areas beyond Sindhukot-Latamarang, Mahakaal, Ichok, Timboo hyangel, the trend is even greater. The trend is very great in the upper areas.

For what purpose do they go abroad?
Actually, their purpose is to do illicit jobs, to go to Bombay.

Since when was this trend of going to Bombay and engaging in illicit activities present in this place?
It dates back a long time ago. It started in 1950 and since then the trend has continued. How they were inspired was that they saw a girl who returned from Bombay in fine clothes and were lured into the idea that they too could buy such fine clothes, for their parents could not afford such clothes for them. They are one of two kinds. The other kind are actually sent by their parents because they see the girls bring back money. They say that they are very poor and by sending their daughters to Bombay, they will get money for a better life. Then there is another kind. Some people lure girls by promising to take them to Kathmandu, to feed them well and to marry them. And they are taken to Bombay. Thus girls reach Bombay in 3 ways.
Section 8
Among the ones that go to Bombay, from which caste do they mainly come from?
This occurrence is abundantly found in the Tamang community. The Bishwakarmas stand second.

To what extent is the trend found among the Bahuns and Chettris?

What could be the reason behind the other caste going there but not Bahuns and Chettris?
One reason is the lack of awareness. Another reason is that the question of dignity is not taken too seriously among this community (Tamang). Among Bahuns and Chettris, the daughters are not allowed to go abroad by their parents. Among the lower castes, when a girl returns from Bombay with wealth, they are treated with hospitality to their ultimate satisfaction. That is why so many go there.

After how long do these women return from Bombay?
8-10 years. In some cases 2-3 years.

How much money do the women bring returning from Bombay?
Well, in the range of 100,000 to 150,000 rupees. Exactly how many clothes and how much gold they bring is not known. But the money is brought in that amount. Even the ones that do not bring much, bring about 50-60 thousand rupees.

How do they use the money they have brought?
A lot of them spend money to provide nice clothes for their family and relatives. A few of them spend money on domestic affairs. They also spend money on acquiring land and building a house. About 25% of them spend money on acquiring land and building houses. Some come from Kathmandu, by helicopter! Some had already spent the money there, the little that remains is finished because they want to dress well and eat well when at home.

What is the social standing of the women that have returned from Bombay?
Within their families and within their community, they are treated well, you see. Among other communities the Bahuns and Chettris, they are looked down upon. Most of the women who have returned from Bombay do not get married here.

How do they spend the rest of their lives later?
For the time being, they are living well. Regarding the future, if their maternal home is well off, they live at their maternal home. Otherwise, they are finished there (Bombay), they suffer.

Have you seen any women that have returned from Bombay and are suffering?
There is such a women on the other side of the river (River Melamchi). I don't know her name. When she returned from Bombay, she was found infected with AIDS and is living in Kathmandu, so I hear. Within this region of ours, their might be 10-11 women infected with AIDS.
Section 9
How did you guess that they are infected with AIDS?
AIDS victims grow weaker and weaker and eventually they die after 10-11 years. It can be found out by examining (conducting a test) too.

What precautions are being taken against the transmission of the disease from these women?
One is to abstain from sexual activities, the other is not to share a syringe etc. We are informing these measures.

What instructions have been established in your village for the control of AIDS?
In our Sindhukot VDC, ActionAid has provided some information on AIDS. In other places, Community Self-Reliance Centre also has preached against AIDS. The other is Women Self-Reliance Centre which is working for the control and prevention of AIDS. This institution has instigated programmes on adult literacy, saving, AIDS and mid-wifery.

What have you found these institutions have done to rehabilitate the returnees from Bombay?
Not much has been done in this Sindhukot VDC. In this region, they have been formed into a group which provides adult literacy. At the same time, they provide information on AIDS and its prevention. Too bad that they are suffering from AIDS, but they can help in preventing others from contracting it.

Preaching in that way, informs that going to Bombay will lead to contracting the disease, how do the women react?
When they show their own case, it is even easier. They went there and they are suffering from the consequences. They say that whatever has happened to them can't be helped. But the rest of the girls must not go there. It is very effective. There isn't a big question of their self-dignity. Once they admit to what has happened to them, it is not necessary to repeat it. Concerning others, they think these women have actually gone there and experienced the consequences. What we hear from others could be tell-tale, but not what these women say. What they say is true. This notion spreads to other communities as well.

What is the effect of this talk to the women that have not gone there (Bombay)?
Previously, they use to marvel at the women who went to Bombay and returned with many nice clothes and jewellery. They used to dream of doing the same. Now that the ones that went to Bombay themselves say “you mustn’t go there, if you go there you will contract this disease; we are in this state. Now on it is no good there”. So they realise that they mustn’t go there, if they do, they will contract the disease, going there means putting their life at stake. They have to understand this now.

What is the wage difference between men and women in your village?
There is a difference in wages. Well it is assumed that men can work harder than women, hence their higher wages. The ratio is one to half. Women get less, men get more. The rates prevailing in our village are 30 rupees a day for men and only 15 rupees for women.
Section 10
Why such a big difference?
It is in accordance with the conventions of the village society. Men can work more and women work less. Men are stronger so they can work more, conversely women work less and the wages are also accordingly.

From when was this trend started?
This dates back to times immemorable. In our society, it was so from the very beginning.

What is your opinion of this trend?
In my opinion, it is not right. The women have been working as much as they possibly can. As much as their physique permits, the men work and the women as well. So they should get equal wages.

What is the say of the women labourers on this matter?
They too say that they need equal wages. But they can't stand up to it. The society is not about to provide this charge right away. So it is as it was.

Exactly who in our society decides that women get less and men get more wages?
We all ought to take the decision into our hands. But nobody actually affords to make the decision on equal wages. When women are employed, less work is said to be done; when men are employed, they are said to do more work and are paid accordingly.

In our society, when there are occasions to buy anything or buffaloes, who in the family takes the decision?
The man decides. The women hasn't done it.

For the women not to decide, only for the man to decide, what could be the reason behind this?
The women has not been given this right.

Who doesn't give her this right?
The society doesn't. Our villages don't.

In your opinion, why is this convention existing in our society?
In my opinion, it is because girls are wedded and given away to others. The maternal home is not their true home. Once they go to the new home, the people there think “we have brought her here by marrying her, what right has she here?” The men think “we always stay in our own homes, so we should have the right"”. These are the reasons behind this convention.

In which ethnic communities does this trend prevail?
It prevails in all ethnic communities.
Section 11
In your village who, among the women, have held managerial positions in various organisations and institutions?
In these institutions of ours, the representation of women must be at about 5%. However, the chairperson of the community development committee is a woman. The reason behind women's scanty representation is lack of awareness, lack of education in one hand and on the other, they say (norms) of the society. It is the society that thumps down upon the women by saying “what work can one expect from a women?” so though girls have been educated, they have not pursued higher education.

What is your opinion on this?
In my opinion, the representation of men and women must be equal in any institution. Regarding education, the girls must be given equal opportunities. We must have equal rights with men.

What is the practice of incurring expenditure from the boy’s and girl’s side during wedding ceremonies?
In marriage, the girl must bring a substantial amount of dowry. If dowry is lacking, adjusting becomes a difficult affair for her because she is accused of not bringing much dowry. Such things have appeared in our society. In our village, it has become necessary to take dowry amounting up to 100,000 rupees, including a T.V. set, radio, wrist watch, gold necklace etc. They have begun to demand T.V. sets even in these villages. This practice has been practised for 4 or 5 years. Watches and radios were demanded since 10 years ago.

Why are they needed nowadays but not previously?
It is said that the number of girls has increased, the number of boys is smaller. But actually it is the insistence of the boys. They say, “we are not marrying anybody's daughter without getting wealth as well. The girl alone is not enough. If they don't provide wealth, we shall not marry so-and-so's daughter”.

What sort of boys are given more dowry?
In our community, boys who are literate, slightly educated but not highly educated, need more dowry, because they fall somewhere in the middle. Because they are proud. The highly educated ones think that wealth is not everything; those that are not educated, it is out of question for them to seek wealth. The matriculated ones are often wealthy.

In which ethnic communities is the practice of dowry most prevalent?
The dowry system is strongest among the Bahuns and Chettris. The practice is non-existent in the Tamang community unlike among the Bahuns and Chettris.

What problems does the family of the girl face if it is not in a condition to provide dowry?
For them, wedding a daughter leads to selling away their belongings. There is the compulsion to wed their daughter and as well as providing dowry. So they are in a state to sell away their belongings.
Section 12
How many are these cases of selling their belongings in order to wed their daughter?
There are about 50% of such cases. Then there are the cases when dowry is given at the will of the girl's family.

How do you think this dowry can system be reduced?
In my opinion, from anywhere, it rounds up to the same point-being literate is best. If everyone were aware of such things, it would not have happened. It is the literate boys that need dowry. Nevertheless, to eradicate this capitalist culture, a committee on marriage matters should be set up and it should decide to what extent the dowry would be demanded. Up to now there are no such councils in our village.

What sort of endeavours have you imparted in this regard?
We have advised girls not to go with boys who demand dowry. They should rather stay with their parents and brothers at their parental home. Likewise, we have advised families not to sell their belongings in order to have their girls married. The wedding practice of putting vermilion on the parting of the girl’s hair by the boy is beginning to come into vogue. We are emphasising on this kind of marriage.

How much is the participation of women in various activities?
In any activity, the participation of women is equal to that of men. Women are engaged in productive activities. In domestic activities, they are engaged more than the men are.

What is the participation of women of this village in development and environment conservation activities like?
Women must be engaged in 25% of the cases.

In which activities are they engaged?
Whenever, there are meetings, seminars or other activities, 25% of the womenfolk participate. In activities like afforestation tour, the involvement of women is scanty. The fact is their participation could have been greater; one person is assigned from one household and the men folk take over. The women folk don't get their turn. There would be participation if they were given their turns. Their lack of participation is due to the lack of opportunity.

How are women treated in the family when they fall ill?
In our society the first thing - to do in such cases - is to employ witch doctors. Thereafter, comes the practice of taking them to hospitals. If men fall ill, witch doctors are employed to cure them. If this does not bring satisfactory results, they are immediately taken to a hospital. In the case of womenfolk, witch doctors are employed and then the results are long waited for in the event of which, they sometimes lose their lives. However, educated families treat them with equal care as with the men folk. If the family is not educated, it exhibits a considerate discrimination between men and women when it comes to treating an ailment.

What is the concept of men, regarding the necessity for women to be made aware by involving them in various development works?
About 25% of the men have a good concepts of this. They know it is necessary to provide education to women and provide them with an opportunity to make the need of the women to be made aware. They know women should have equal right to men. But 75% of the men don't think like this. They are under the impression that women should do household jobs only.
Section 13
What kind of men think well of women and what kind of men don't?
It depends on whether they are literate or not. If they are educated, they think well for women. But those who have been brought up traditionally think that women have no significance, their only job is to do domestic chores, they need not participate in meetings. When women attend meetings, they say, “Look, the hen has begun to crow”.

What is the participation of women like in the context of village, district and national-level politics?
In our region, 25% of the women have participated in political activities according to their will. 75% of the women practice according to their voting rights at the instruction of their family members: father or brothers and their husbands. That is because they are illiterate and cannot read newspapers and magazines. They don't have the opportunity of hearing what is happening around them (politically). They are not allowed to attend meetings.

To what extent do women freely practice their voting rights during elections?
They can't practice it well. Their decision is dependent on their family's inclination. For instance, I want to vote for somebody but if my father wants me to vote for another person, I have to act accordingly. So hardly 25% of the women practice their rights freely. But 20% of them act according to their will, whatever the pressures are given by their parents, husbands or brothers. For the rest of the women, the decision is governed by the most reverent member in the family.

In the constitution of our country, what provision is there regarding the safe guarding of women's welfare and rights?
The provision is confined within the constitution. Women have equal rights to men. But only in theory, nothing can be found in practice. The provisions have not been put into practice. The provisions keep remaining in the constitution and the women keep remaining in their villages.

Why haven't women's rights been practised in accordance with the constitution?
For them to be put into practice, the government must keep an eye on it. The women's organisation must also monitor it. At the lower level, especially village level, various political parties use women only to fulfil their humble interests. Even the government has not taken any concrete step to stand up to women. If the government showed some interest in this regard, something could be expected.

What kind of slogans have the various political parties raised for the rights of women in Nepal?
All the political parties have raised slogans for the equal rights of women. As far as slogans are concerned rights have been given, but only in election bills and in the constitution. It has not been practised in our society.
Section 14
Which political party has raised the most slogans for women's rights, relatively?
Well in my opinion, the Nepal Communist Party raises the most slogans. But it is not in the government. Another party runs the government. Then there is the constitution. Such are matters.

What are the reasons that women's rights which have been provided by the constitution are not put into practice?
In my opinion, it is due to the political instability. It is also due to the conflicts between the parties. All parties claim that they have given rights. The Nepali Congress Party has also highlighted women's rights. The Rastriya Prajatantra (National Democratic) Party has done it and the Nepal Communist Party has also done it. The Congress Party says it gives women as much as the communist party does. But the communist party refuses this claim. This continues and the women are stranded in the middle.

How can constitutional rights be brought into practice?
It must start from the bottom. Eventually if it could be done at the higher levels as well. But what is happening in the lower level is that they do not even have information. They cannot understand which party imparts how many rights.

What do you think would be done to put the women's right into practice in the lower level?
The necessity of education. When they become educated, they automatically understand. They wouldn't have to be bothered by anyone regarding political favour. Those interested in politics could engage themselves actively and ably. They wouldn't be sent to the parties by the influence of their men family members. When they are not educated, they don't understand and stay in the lower level.

What would you mean by women's awareness?
"Awareness" means being able to think and act according to what one thinks is right. To be able to think of one's life, whether be it politics or whatever, it is being able to progress according to one's capacity. It is not blindly following what others say.

To impart that kind of thinking, what kind of steps would be best?
Well in many places, informal education is being given. But I don't think the courses are completed properly. Because the women are not yet literate (from their courses). But they could be made literate by being taught in these centres properly or by being taught at schools properly. One-sided effort is no good, the women must be encouraged to participate actively in the classroom.

How could women be provided with the opportunity of deciding at home?
For men and women to be equal, for women to practice leadership as much as men do, awareness is necessary. They have to be educated. What can they do if they are not educated? If everyone in the family is educated, everyone will come to terms with one another. The men don't denounce the women on rights. In addition to all the family members being educated, the women must have rights to ownership of half the family properly. Say, if there is a family of the parents and 3/4 of children, the mother must have equal rights for the ownership of the family wealth or the father. In that case, they are each entitled to half the property. Only this is it possible to impart equal rights to the mother and the father.
Section 15
There is a category of people who say daughters must have equal rights to the family property. Then there is the other category of people who say simply providing equal rights to property is not enough. What is your opinion on this?
When daughters are married and sent away to another house, they ought to get their share of family property as the sons do. There would be no question of their being denied rights to the property of their husband's homes just because they brought wealth from their maternal homes. If daughters are entitled to the right of family property from the beginning, all the better. Even when they are married and sent away, they should get a share of their family property.

In your opinion, what should be done to entitle girls and boys with equal rights to the family property?
In my opinion, consent should be required from both the sons and daughters when it comes to selling family property (usually land). Another thing is, the women should be allowed to sell buffaloes, (or her own) when she can fetch a reasonable price. She shouldn't have to wait for her husband. However, she should not be blamed later.

You should spread the word that equal rights is only possible if women and men have equal rights to family property. What course of action should be taken, legally and practically?
Whatever the legal and practical failures, only one thing counts emphasis on education. If they are well educated, everything fits in. They can stand for their rights and privileges. Therefore if women become educated this can be possible.

What differences have you found in women's rights during the Panchayat Regime and now?
As far as the constitution is concerned, there was the provision of women's rights even in the Panchayat Regime. The same applies for now. But there is a vast difference in the situation of now and then. For instance, there are a greater number of women in all institutions. Women are seen more in schools as well. Incidentally, free education is provided up to class 7. This has led to an influence of more girl students into schools. Under this multiparty democracy women also have more democratic participation during election.

Why is it that women practice more during elections in this type of democracy?
It is because more people are educated nowadays. Had they been educated earlier, it wouldn't have been so. Besides, there is the provision of equal rights to all in this multi-party system.

Between women from rich families and those from poor families, who have to work harder?
It is the poor ones that have to labour harder, because they can live on wages only. Rich women do not have to worry about making ends meet. They (the rich women) only have to look after their own farming only whereas the poorer women have to divide their labour between their own farming and on wages. So they have to labour harder.
Section 16
Class wise, which women do you find enjoying more of their rights within the family?
Considering things, the situation is better in the poorer families. The reason is that boys from rich families are flamboyant. They spend a lot of time idling about. So the women have to work more. In poor families, the boys work as much as the girls do. They have to work on wages. They have to support their families in this way. In fact, women and men seem equal in poor families. Comparing the two classes, women from the poor families are practising rights.

Why should this be so?
The reason is that rich people do not have to work on wages. They get sufficient to feed and clothe themselves from their own land and livestock. Poor people have to work with others. Both the men and the women have to toil for a living. In matters concerning the equal division of rights, the situation is better in the poor families. In poor families, discussion is undertaken even in small matters whereas in the rich families such matters are not taken very seriously.

How can the violation of women's rights by the men among rich families be reduced?
One way is by emphasising education. Besides that, if women's councils are established so that the instances of women enjoying equal rights in poor families and even in rich families if they are well-educated, are demonstrated.

If women need loans, how much does the lender consider feasible for lending?
If loans are required, lack of trust is not constant. But it is considered how the women would pay back. Loans can be given but the women may not get the consent of her husband, father or brothers. When it comes to paying back they may not pay back. Condemning the women for borrowing without their consent; so, in this matter women are considered less eligible for loans than men. It is the men that hold the purse strings so it is considered dubious if women will pay back the loans. None of the wealth is registered in women's names.

In the present context which is an easy way to promote women's rights?
In the present context informal education is necessary. Just conducting classes is not sufficient, monitoring should be done to find out how many women are studying, how the classes are being conducted and in which places the classes are being conducted. The people must be advised to send their daughters to these classes. How are they being treated by their husbands? How they stand up against such conduct? What is right? What should we do? All the answers to these questions must be instilled into the women. As far as possible, co-operative women teachers must work in such classes.
Even in the various institutions, there should be various programmes on women and there should be more women officials. Women must come forward and show in deeds, besides this, they must be confident.

To promote women employment, what sort of skills should be taught?
The main thing is education. And other skills like knitting and sewing, pig farming, poultry farming, community saving etc. need to be taught. The reason is that, to implement such skills, they have to take the aid of various institutions. And when they come into touch with such institutions, they learn many things. Likewise, if these skills are discussed during women's seminars and these skills can also be promoted by establishing women's organisation and conducting various activities.
Section 17
To promote your own social standing, what have you considered for yourself?
I consider for myself in this way. At present I am working as a teacher. In my opinion, if I keep on working as a teacher and do my job well, it is a matter of pride in itself. However, I would like to engage myself in activities, which aid the promotion of women's right and increase their awareness. But due to certain constraints, like my family life and other things, I have not been able to do so. Nevertheless, I conducted 4 or 5 informal literacy programmes for women, myself. Considering what I have done, the response from the women is very positive and rewarding. They want more of such programmes. Rather than teaching I would like to work in an institution where I could investigate problems that women are facing and work for their welfare and promote their awareness. Though I cannot do this at present, I wish to be able to do that in the future.

How would it be easier for you to work for women's welfare and rights, in being involved with such institutions?
In the school here I teach small children. It is good to be working in a school; I can shape the future of children. However, working with such institutions facilitates one to travel far and wide (to many villages). This leads coming in touch with many women and knowing of their problems finding out how many educated women there are and learning about their opinions as well. One can also learn from other similar institutions. The knowledge would be useful in taking decisions, I think it is better to travel wide and acquire knowledge than to stay in one place.

Are you involved with any institutions at present?
At present I am involved with the Community Self-Reliance Council. I am a member of the council. Our colleagues from there have already worked for two VDCs. But I have not been able to go there. I may go there in the future or I may just work as a general member. If the condition of the council improves later, I might go there. For 1 or 2 years, I am not going.

What is your ultimate aim in life?
It looks like my life will be devoted to teaching. Actually my aim is to work in an institution where I can investigate and identify the problems that women are facing and work out solutions to them.

What vows have you taken to organise the women of Sindhukot VDC?
We are in the process of registering an organisation. "Sindheshwari Informal Education Group, Sindhukot". I have vowed to start an informal class for women and through it, make them organised by holding a responsible post when the organisation is registered with HMG.

To what extent do you find your decisions being recognised in your home?
Our family is very big. We cannot have everyone's decisions. I make decision with my husband. When I propose something, he doesn't disagree. My decisions are well-recognised. He thinks well of my opinion. When I tell him of my opinion of working in such an institution, he does not disagree.
Section 18
How did this kind of thinking develop in him?
My husband is also a teacher. He knows about the informal literacy classes that I have conducted. He shares feelings for the welfare and rights of women with me. So he does not disagree with me.

In your opinion, what role should women play for the preservation of the environment?
Mostly, it is the women who collect fodder. While doing so, they should not cut young trees. If young trees are cut, it should be found out who did it. Besides, two or four people should come together and plant saplings on the barren hills and fields. Women cut down young trees because of the lack of awareness.

What kind of education do you think would be conclusive to the preservation of the environment?
By providing education, by arranging seminars on environmental preservation. By telling them why our hillocks are falling off and why we have to go a long way to fetch water; women can go forward.

Thank you very much for your co-operation.

Interviewer’s note: Indira comes from a poor family. She lives in a hilly region about 4500m in Sindhukot village Development Committee in Sindhupalchok District. She lives, with her old mother: although she has been married to a man from home and teaches at school in a village nearby she has made a detailed analysis of the situation of women 10-15 years. Previously and now, she is involved in activities pertaining to the welfare of women, her logic and experience seem to be very factual.