Equal Citizenship: Walking from Back

Equal Citizenship: Walking from Back

by Radha Paudel
Of course, my heart was broken when I read the draft constitution via facebook via Rabindra Adhikari. I was literally tear off and it was very spontaneous.  Many of my children, friends, and relatives from across Nepal are suffering from due to not having equal citizenship rights. They represent all gender, caste, region, religion and so forth. I don’t like to explain each detail now. I spent unlimited time to process for their citizenship.
I reflect the history of Nepal. In my 40 years history, I experienced everything; monarchy, constitutional monarchy, democracy, republic democracy and eagerly waiting to experience of federal republic democracy. It is huge change. When I compare with other neighboring countries, Nepal has jumped in policies in many ways. Regards to the women’s movement, no doubt, there are some changes in policies but merely absence of changes in daily life of majority of women in Nepal.  In terms of citizenship rights, now the country is walking from back, completely from back, it is a clear and crystal picture of the condition of women in future.
The society is getting different shape due to globalization and other changes within and outside of the society. Many things are beyond control even tough to minimize. Nepal has already failed to enforcement of the policies and laws. It is ashamed to me how the political parties/leaders and government is itself visioning about the country by undermining the equality. Do they forget the notion of ` no women, no peace, no peace, and no development’? It is very obvious fact that many things or rights hindrances due to not having equal citizenship rights. It would be a big mistake in a history of Nepal if it wouldn’t take in account during finalization process of constitution.
There are more than dozen of reasons for not getting equal citizenship rights. I found few very critical barriers behind it; i) women don’t do the protest as other movement such Tharuhat, Madesh etc. , ii) the movement whatever taking place yet is deeply divided by 3 PS; politics, property and position.  Sometimes, I feel ashamed while going through even facebook update. The principle of `everyone boss’ is applied because each ready to provide suggestions, not ready for taking risks and ignore or escape if there is no any benefit e.g. money. Consequently, the movement is so fragile, unilateral and tapering till end iii) elite captured is the another big challenged. Anyone can lead the issue from the international experience but in Nepal, it has very big gap between have’s and have’s not.  Many Have’s not adopt elites but elites are falling to show such behavior largely. Taking photo with rural, poor or survivor is not evidence of that you are leading the issue of entire women or you are leading with empathetic mindset.  It is funny that many men are struggling with masculine character as given by society where as masculine women are always living with privileges. The shield was so thick to penetrate and reaching to the bottom that needs huge resources, strong wiliness and finally ACTIONs and iv) scarcity of leadership within women’s community. The so called women leaders are failed to capitalize the energy from bottom, more focused on individual vision or interest, the blindfolded followers of men folks. In many cases, they are forgetting their broader role of women’s movement and confined within a project, NGO, money, benefits and so on. Due to convolute with politics, the situation is really helpless and hopeless and long way to go to get equal rights in citizenships and everywhere.
When the draft constitution is denying the equal citizenship rights, the various forms of protest are in progress.  I do support to protest in a way and the other around.  I am working on it when I obtained it in 1990. Of course, I didn’t know much the advocacy groups/NGO stuffs during these days. It was so organic. I raised the issues of citizenship in various forums and lobbied, facilitated the process of it for many women in Jumla since 2001. I have enough evidences e.g. member of national women commission. I also spoke at national conference held in Hotel Radisson, I went there along with Durga Pokhrel, PhD in 2004. I knew many women leaders since then but they didn’t recognize me yet because I am from Jumla (Jumli), and I haven’t many things as elite and urban women possess. I have eaten dinner in couples of times at very specific places and time. I spoke the needs and values of citizenship rights in rural settings like Karnali. Many journalists were discussed with me about the gravity of it.
My story is only a representative story of many women who are working since the citizenship rights in Nepal 2019 BS in bottom. Our experts’ friends and expert’s journalist usually love to use the information but not like to know the potentiality and pain and always considered as ignorance, junior and incapable. In such circumstances, without having a single voice or unity, how Nepali women can possess equal citizenship rights.
The current protest is only for the protest, the same people, same actions, same mindset. How do we bring the change? Where the commitment papers are where as political leaders spoke, put their signature? Does any one analysis the amount of money spent for the citizenship in Nepal? How many times politicians attained the program, spoke, express their verbal and written commitment ….Again, is only a matter of women? Where are the young gender responsive male politicians?  Can women sit in mass hunger strike at national level? Can women who have connection or membership with political parties say no or resign from their political affiliation? There are so many unanswered questions to cross the limit of comfort zones.
Here,  the backward steps in constitution regards to equal citizenship right shows that men are in deeply hurt and seeking to protect their manhood by blocking it because there were all men in decision making process of constitution drafting process. Shame !
Venue: Shanta Susana, LA

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