Call for Commemorate Local Women Leaders for Sustained Peace in Nepal: September 21, 2014

Call for Commemorate Local Women Leaders for Sustained Peace in Nepal: September 21, 2014

by Radha Paudel
I become judgmental towards village leaders, due to extreme cold and snowing, women wouldn’t come or would come late while walking over snowing road for Lashi Dillichaur, Jumla in December 2013. Due to heavy snow, took complete 7 hours walk from Khalanga Jumla, felled down several times along with donkey and felt like CARAVAN. It was about 1 o’clock, the very cold, slightly dark floor was occupied by bunch of women and few men. I felt guilt badly on my thought and promised with myself not to repeat again.  I was so confused on how could I make most effective discussion in such group; most were uneducated, speaking pure Jumli Khas language and covered their head by big scarf called gumcho in local language. However, I always enjoyed with such group because easy to brain wash for transformation without delearning and learning also sustained than educated and urban people.
I was just in introductory session; a mobile rang with high volume from the side of women’s row. One woman with big smile stood up and went outside to speak. I was following her conversation to set the ground rules about switched off. I regret again because she talked about the governance of a cooperative and she is serving as president so she insisted for calling meeting. If I were asked to everyone to switch off or kept on mute, how they would access with information? They neither can check text message nor check the incoming calls.
In order to enter in to the issues regarding to women’s right and empowerment, I simply asked about to list down the history of four women in group. It was voluntarily asked four women and asked group to work on her life history. Women were came extra exceptionally with issues and concerns regards to right of rural, poor, marginalized woman.  My soul was crying to hear from them, how strong they are, how much struggle they have gone through, how much difficult their environment and how lucky I was, got opportunity to learn and inspired so much.   
Mrs LauriMaya Dhami
One group started to present of Mrs Laurimaya Dhami, the same woman who was talked earlier over phone. She was born in Patrashi village in Jumla where is about 10 hours walk from headquarter. She had got marriage at 11 years old as arrange marriage with the man from next village. She decided to go to file the case when her husband brought next woman at home. She was so dedicated on her love and dedication by considering her luck. Her family and relatives were standing on her opposition and put her as stigma. Finally, she got divorce thought the process was so tough for her due to uneducated, rural and poor woman. It was 45 years back where there gender responsive policies were not in conception in history of Nepal’s women’s right movement. Though she got divorce and started to live at maternal house. She did second marriage on her own decision with bit old man at Loom, Dillichaur, Jumla. In her own saying, she did compromise with age because she was suffering from various forms of abuse and stigma due to divorce and single. There was mutual love and respect regardless second marriage, divorce and all. She got six children, all are educated and independently living at six different houses. Unfortunately, her second husband died 14 years back due to sickness, which was not cured by Jumla hospital. Though the Jumla has diverse practice regards to widow, she started to use all colors and jewelries after a year by her own decision. She just ignored what other said and though about her. She stated, bahini who was crying with me while I was crying, who slept with me when I slept with empty stomach. I had just shake from her saying because she wasn’t less as educated woman activist in Kathmandu. Now she is not only a gender facilitator in her community, she is holding decision making positions of more than half dozens of committees, lobbying with political leaders and government authorities at local and district levels. She resolved many disputes in the community related with gender based violence, land, sharing of family property. Her group defined her as role model, as catalyst, as champion, as peace leaders, as connector, as mediator, as mother, as activist etc. She also a final decision maker on her all economic activities including her land.
In 2006, the mother’s day approaching and I had spoken with my mom, Ms. Ganga Maya Paudel, over phone, a 2 weeks before of mother’s day. I didn’t go home unless Dashain and emergency situation. My mom didn’t expect me on mother’s day but she requested, I was completely happy with you all from your care, I didn’t need anything during mother’s day. If you would manage money, please think not to do KRIYA after death of mine, you can donate to school for educating poor, dalit girls. She further said, who is come and say that I was in heaven and I was in hell, so no need to spend the money for all. Since I knew her, kept on saying that `Crying is NOT Final Solution’ of any life. Thus, education is very important to everyone especially for woman, she should live independently in each walks of her life. She gave two example to everyone while chatting in field, forest and everywhere; i) I carried a sags of rice that I grown to rice mills but I can’t say how much kilo was it, it was so embarrassing while asking with mill owner, ii) I always scared to throw even piece of paper by thinking that was related with valued documents. She was not happy with saying only, she contributed many children of her friends and relatives by giving money or directly giving notebooks and other reading materials. She was sick since I knew though awake up early morning with the signal of eastern star or  cock’s bark. She prepared roasted corn and tea for us so we had to study till sun raise and we had to read loudly so she could follow us while she was busy in household chores. More importantly, I was quite young, she shared with me about gender and caste discrimination. Why I was sat in low level during the feast of higher caste neighbor. She never shouted me when I ate at dalit’s house. Likewise, she spoke against gender based violence in the community and encouraged me to serve others who are suffering from poverty, gender and caste. As a result of her education, I had put on fire (dagbatti) on pyre (CHITTA). She was always casted her vote as her choice.
Late Mrs GangaMaya Paudel
The above mentioned examples of Mrs Laurimaya and Gangamaya are only the representative examples of local women leaders. Without having formal education, training, more specifically without having knowledge on human rights, they are breaking the silence in the communities; they spoke against set social values and norms that are discriminating women in many ways.  Of course, they have gone with series of difficulties, challenges and obstacles while they stand against society. Indeed, they are REAL peace leaders at the local level who contributed in making strong foundation national  peace building. Today’s many such women are working with political leaders, village secretaries, government authorities and NGOs to claim their rights specially in resource generation and sharing. They also significantly contributed in rural agro-economy and development. They are engaged in health, education, natural resource management, infrastructure, breaking traditional harmful practices, saving and credits, cooperatives etc. Very sadly, many local women leaders were played multiple roles during a decade long insurgency in Nepal. In Jumla, Mrs Laurimaya was struggling to support directly by sending her children in to combatants, joining their mass activities and so on where as in Chitwan, Mrs Ganga Maya, was provided shelter for combatants, foods, telephonic service etc.  Without knowing any theoretical perspectives, they are practicing UNSCR (United Nations Security Council Resolutions) 1325, 1820, CEDAW, and Nepal’s Interim constitution 2007.
These all activities they carried for their satisfaction because they considered these situations are urgent to address and mitigate not for well paid, promotion, aboard going, awards etc. They are worried about their children and grand children like Mrs Laurimaya and Gangamaya. Unfortunately, they are disappearing slowly because the life expectancy of most of them is shorter due to poor socio-economic background. They are unable to write by themselves except oral history. In this situation, their activism, their successes and inspiring stories are missing sadly. In Kathamndu, September 21, the Ministry of Peace and Construction, the NGOs, UNs are commemorating International Peace Day every year. They don’t know or ignore to know what is happening in the ground by whom and how. There are multiple confounding factors of ignorance by Kathamndu’s activism due to don’t have English language, poverty, poor get up, non political, living in rural areas associated by dirty/ugly, excessive ignorance etc. And they also forgetting to recognize them and document their powerful stories to move country. 

If the Government, UN agencies, and NGOs really are seeking tangible results in peace building and reconciliation process in Nepal, the local leaders should get attention in recognition, their capacity building with linking international and national human rights laws/policies and comprehensive enabling environment to blow otherwise there are ample of evidences of relapse conflict in Nepal in a way and the other. It is still not too late to reconsider the strategies and actions to significantly engage with Local Women Peace Leaders and recognized them for sustained peace and prosperous Nepal. My big salute is to Mrs Laurimaya, Gangamaya and all who sacrifice their life for cause at grassroot’s movement.

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