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Norway vs Nepal on Gender equality

Dambara Upadhyay died alone inside this shelter. She was following the practice of menstrual exclusion that is common in parts of western Nepal: sleeping outside the home during menstruation. Photo: Shiva Raj Dhungana / npr.org

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The Effects of Gender Equality in Norway and Gender Inequality in Nepal

Global Gender Index (GGI) published in 2018 ranked Norway 2nd out of 149 countries, trailing Iceland. Norway received a high score of 0.835, which shows the culmination of its endeavours in closing the gender gap. In contrast, GGI ranked Nepal 105th out of 149 countries, with an abysmal score of 0.671, which shows the gender inequality prevailing in the developing economy. The Index gauges gender equality across four critical areas: education, health, economic and political systems.

 

In this article, I would like to showcase gender equality through the prism of Norway and Nepal.

Norway’s leap

It is indeed a big leap in a country where women were considered as just housewives (without any participation in the workforce) in the 1950s.

Since then Norway has initiated a slew of policies to enhance women’s employment and their participation in different spheres of lives. The country has made great strides in the area of education and parenting benefits ensuring that there is an increase in the number of “employed mothers” rather than just “mothers”. The effort to increase women participation has transformed the wealthy country into a welfare state.

Equality of women in other domains like politics, economics, and law also empowered them to climb the upper echelons of their profession.

If women can grow into a powerful politician, then we can infer that the country is giving equal opportunities. In Norway, Erna Solberg is the most powerful women politician and the incumbent Prime Minister of Norway. Women leaders like Solberg and others have a great role in preserving and multiplying the wealth of the country for future generations.

Nepal’s Menstrual Hut

From time immemorial women have been alienated during their menstruation periods and are forced to live outside their home in a small makeshift tarpaulin covered hut. The reason being that majority of the religions considers women impure during their periods.

The tragic death of a Nepali woman and her two children in a menstruation hut is a case in point. Women face the worst forms of discrimination in developing countries like Nepal. It is certainly appalling when we understand that these uncivilized practices are still practised with impunity under the nose of the government administrators.

Women live in tiny cubicles outside the comfort of their home, often in unhygienic environs without any care and compassion from fellow human beings, sometimes even leading to their deaths. A couple of deaths were reported from Nepal in the past few years.

Considering the dangers, Nepal’s government had already banned shunning women in 2015. It also imposed a fine of Rs.3000 and a three- month jail term for ostracizing women during their periods.

These unholy practices masquerade as scientific practices thereby subjugating women to a corner. In addition, the majority of the religions endorse this belief as a matter of faith where there is no space for dissent. The epistemology that drives this belief stems from the scriptures and holy books. Any woman protesting against the unjust system is seen as a threat to the religion and its followers. And the worse, every preacher is a man who ensures that these ungodly practices are followed spic and span. Thus unholy religious practices and patriarchal hegemony have a symbiotic relationship.

It comes as no surprise when the repositories of sacred writings are in the grip of men, one cannot expect a better version for women. Majority of the holy books are twisted and tweaked to espouse men as the lone saviour of the universe, downplaying women as a fragile and impure creature dependent on men.

Menstruation hut is one among the other discrimination faced by women in the developing world. There is no single perfect solution for reversing this unholy belief. Only when the image of the women is revitalized can she hope to embrace freedom. This needs a rejig of the political, educational, spiritual and social narratives woven into the social fabric by the male-dominated society. Education is a perfect starting point.

Women deserve a better image in the society. When periods are considered as impure, then the passage of stool and urine should also come under the same tag. Now there is a great scope for a movement.

# Menstrual celebration movement.

References

Women in work: The Norwegian_experience



This article is written by our regular guest writer Rajesh Trichur Venkiteswaran.
Rajesh is a freelance journalist. He can be reached at freelancejournalistrajesh@protonmail.com


© Rajesh Trichur Venkiteswaran / #Norway Today
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