Unequal: How Nepal’s Citizenship Laws Prevent Young Women from Achieving Their Dreams

Read my article on how my fellow friends are struggling to pursue their dreams simply because of not having citizenship.

Girls' Globe

By Bidhyalaxmi Maharjan, Women LEAD’s Communication Intern

Life has never been easy for Reni.* When her father died of cancer, she took over her family shop, but it was very difficult for her family of seven to live on the shop.  Later, when an acquaintance offered her a job at a finance company, she was more than happy to get a job that paid her 7,000 rupees, or $70, a month. But she did not get the job for one reason—she was not a Nepali citizen.

That was the first problem among hundreds of others Reni would go through following the death of her father. While Nepali fathers are able to pass citizenship to their children regardless of their wives’ nationality, Nepali mothers who are single or married to a foreign partner are not afforded the same right. Their children can then either live their life as a stateless…

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To LoveGuru: Part II

The task of my high school Loveguru was tough. Not anyone can become a Loveguru. Only an interest in love and romance doesn’t make you a Loveguru. It requires a set essential interpersonal communication skills to become a Loveguru. My high school Loveguru had a highly advanced emotional intelligence.

Firstly, she was a good listener. She was always curious to know the stories of people. She could see if someone was upset and asked her what was wrong. The other person starts saying, “I am having a very bad time with my boyfriend.” Our Loveguru eggs her on to share her love-story and she starts with “It’s a very long story.” (Even when their relations is just 3 month’s old.) She talks about where she first met him, their first date and then comes the first kiss. “We were on a date. You know, just strolling around Godawari and I was eating potato chips. He saw a tiny piece of chips stuck at the side of my lips and he came forward to brush it off. I looked at him and we kissed.” The benefit of being a Loveguru is you become privy to the secret romances of people. People trust you.

Sometimes your friend turns to Loveguru in utter distress and frustration. He says, “My babe says she is no longer interested in me. How can she say so? She’s my life. I can’t live without her.” Your friend starts freaking out and the Loveguru says, “ Calm down! Calm down! She probably didn’t mean it. May be you caught her in a bad mood. Why not try talking to her once again?” Loveguru tries to comfort her friend. But her friend can’t help freaking out. He goes on, “My life is nothing without her. You know, it’s like that of a fish without water. There’s no point in living this life. I don’t want to live anymore. I want to commit suicide.” At this moment Loveguru starts giving direct commands. “Shut up. What nonsense are you talking about? Are you stupid? Commit suicide?!! As if there are no other options.” Then your friend pleads Loveguru to do something. Loveguru now intervenes. She talks to his girlfriend and tries to convince her and work out a solution.

Here I am, unable to manage my own emotions. There, Loveguru is dealing with the emotions others feel, like a boss. She knows how to soothe an angry lover, comfort a damsel in distress, stop your friend from doing something stupid and dangerous in the heat of passion. Loveguru knows wide range of tactics to manage emotions in others. She knows how to influence emotions others are feeling.

Finally, we all know how complex human relations can be. Probably many of us here have ‘It’s complicated’ as our relationship status on Facebook. Today you think you and your beloved are the happiest couple on the earth but tomorrow you feel there’s something terribly wrong between you two. You feel your lover’s personality doesn’t match with yours. My Loveguru used to say, “I don’t think the relation of X with Y isn’t going to last long. X is so bubbly person but when she is with Y she acts differently. She doesn’t look real.” Human relations are a maze with its all intricacies. The relations of teenaged years can especially be more unstable. Loveguru is capable of understanding such complexities, which helps them to give good advices to their friends.

I thought all these self-proclaimed Lovegurus belittled the greatness of Love by acting as if they knew everything about it. But I was wrong. They might not know everything but they were just trying to help their friends enjoy love. They were helping their friends to stay in a healthy relationship. Our love and relations can seem like a confusing puzzle to us and when we have a Loveguru we can make sense of it. We all need a Loveguru.

To LoveGuru: Part I

Could there be any more appropriate time to talk about love and relations than this month? The month of Mangshir. Everyone seems to be getting married. Love-birds tying the knot, promising each other to stay together and share all joys and pain life brings. My own sister got married two days ago and a senior colleague at my work is getting married in a week. All these weddings, unlimited supply of prawn-papad and Mountain Dew and joyous music of band-baja on the streets are making me feel “the love is in the air.”

I am single and I am 19. (This is not an invitation, boys.) I just wanted give you a hint of my inexperience in romantic relations. Anyway, I deserve a round of applause. I mean, who can stay single till 19 these days? People who know me well easily believe when I say I am single. Love?  It’s not my cup of tea. I am not the type who indulges in something so trifle as relationship. Relations are stupid.

But there are some people in our life, who consider themselves the Expert on Love. They think they know everything about love, romance, dating, heartbreak, break-up, patch-up et cetera, et cetera. They are Loveguru. Does this remind you of someone? Don’t say “No!” Every class has a Loveguru. As soon as the teacher gets out of the classroom, that Loveguru gathers a bunch of students around her and starts giving lecture on love.

“You are going on your first date? Take my 10 tips to slay it on a first date.”

“Your girlfriend is mad at you? Follow these 3 simple steps. It worked for me last time.”

“Your boyfriend is ignoring you? Teach him a lesson. Avoid him for a month. He’ll come back begging for you…saying – Babe, I am sorry. I still love you. ”

These Lovegurus talk as if they created the characters Romeo and Juliet, they knew from the beginning that something was wrong with Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma. Do you want to know what I thought about these Lovegurus? They are stupid! More stupid than love itself.

But this was before I met a Loveguru in my high-school. Relations started making sense to me after I got along with her. After I came to know her well I realized the task of a Loveguru was not as stupid as I thought. It wasn’t something easy-peasy either.

In Trasition

transitionTransition is one of the most poignant words for me; a leap from one plane to a higher one.  I leave one platform and try to reach for a richer one. There is always a gulf between what I left behind and the one aspire to. A gap of time and a divide of space between what I abandoned and what I seek. Yes, I abandoned. I consciously take the decision to jump off from my solid base. But I don’t immediately land. I float around and keep drifting.

I am in transition. I don’t have firm ground to stand on, neither a strong wall to lean against. I am a ship in the wide ocean sailing from my last secure harbor to the next elusive harbor. This is my second sail. In this short span of life, I have gone through only one transition before. Such transition is always challenging.

I look back at my safe dock and sometimes miss the stability I used enjoy. I look forward to where I want to be, that has neither clarity, nor a concrete shape. Between these, in the ocean, I find myself slowly losing my hope. I feel vulnerable. I get overwhelmed by an emotion that is mixture of uncertainty, fear and anxiety. The toxicity of depression gradually seeps into my being. Hopelessness rears its ugly head and smirks with eagerness to invade me.

“How do you keep your hope alive in such situation?” I asked Beate as she ended her narrative of series of transitions she went through in her long career as a corporate communications expert. With her eyes set on my eyes she answered, “Share what you feel with a person whom you can trust. Sharing your fear makes it less scary.”

She continued, “Do not fear that people will reject you for who you’ve turned into. You are still the same person as you were before. Change only takes away your confidence but does not change you. You are still the same you. Reflect back on the previous transitions and how you pulled it off. Trust your history.”

“It is always easy get where you want to be when you have its clear picture. Strive to make it clear and detailed. Ask yourself how your success looks like. Break down your success into tangible steps. Take one step a day, the next step the next day. A taste of small success instills the lost confidence in you,” she ended her answer.

As I listened to her saying this, my jaws stiffened and eyes diluted. What she said had kindled a hope in me; a hope that I still have a chance. My calculated steps will take me to where I want to be. I will find a harbor I had set out for. I won’t be drifting forever. I won’t stagnate. I can get back on my feet on a higher board.

The other side of sexism

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I recently came across a photo on Twitter which presented the contrast between the response of a woman and a man when their physical appearance was praised . When a pretty woman is told by her friend that she looked beautiful she  thanks her friend , whereas when a muscular man is told that he looked handsome , unlike the woman , he asks his friend if he was a gay. Now let’s think what the muscular man’s friend might have thought. That he was not allowed to praise someone for their beauty. Besides, what we can deduce from this comparison is that admiring somebody for their beauty is purely a matter of women’s concern , which is not acceptable when done by a man. We already know what happens when a man does so. This is only a single example of troubles men face due to sexist attitudes of the society . Sexism , as we know , is an attitude or action that treats women as inferior to men . Sexist attitudes also tend to reinforce the idea that aesthetic appreciation is a female domain and it is completely denied to men.

Sexism is a prejudice and discrimination against women for maintenance of male supremacy . Apparently, women are its ultimate victims . However, we cannot overlook its negative impact on men. Men are often expected to be emotionally insensitive . Expression of anger from men is allowed than patience. They can have wider psychological implications in men. It is generally known that men are far more frequently involved in acts of violence than women.

The concept of categorising individuals as ‘men’ and ‘women’ on the basis of their sex is universal. People are expected to behave accordingly. As a Victorian poet Alfred Lord Tennyson says , “Man with head and woman with heart” and vice versa is still not easily accepted. Such concept of sex difference creates several stereotypes , which people are expected to conform to. Besides that, it also undermines the identity of genders other than man and woman. Consequently , it restricts individual expression of a person. I shall elucidate this with a quandary faced by a boy, who shared it with an agony aunt. So, this boy was quite interested in make-up and he often helped girls to put on make-up. He wanted to be a make-up artist but his parents were strongly against it. This shows how one cannot work as they wish simply because it is not normal in the society.

Sexism degrades the value of women but it also victimises men. It is something we should do away with but it is so much deep-rooted in us that we hardly realize whether we are playing culprits or victims. However, we must change our mindset and conduct if we are to get rid of sexism. Nothing shall refrain us from being who we are.