Beyond the cityOutside the Valley are women acting under a wide spectrum of roles, yet they are not benifiting from the wildly progressive trends of the urban centres
Upon my arrival to Kathmandu, I assumed, based on my largely superficial postulations, that the women of Nepal were similar to the women I was accustomed to back in the United States. Among other things, these women dressed in western fashion, travelled alone, and were granted rights by the government. As a US citizen, and as someone familiar with relative gender impartiality, I took this parity as one less custom to which I had to adjust to in Nepal.
Not soon after my arrival, however, I found myself further outside the city, and faced with the less-publicised lives of the common Nepali woman, unveiling great contradiction in the expectations of women living in close proximity of the Kathmandu Valley; outside of the city were women acting under a wide spectrum of roles, yet none advantaging from the wildly progressive efforts in the city. These areas, and the women living within them, appeared to be living in something of a time warp.
Around each corner were women fostering unions within families, women showcasing inexhaustible work ethics, and women with inimitable composure and a sense of gratitude. Rural Nepali women had gained the type of ‘equality’—an equality of women’s stratification and malleability within their community—that, in more urban areas, is often a forced job done from the top down. In the case of the rural women of Nepal, however, this ‘equality’ was driven by the necessity for such an adjustment, and was not limited to the women’s ability to comply. In these conditions, gender is indiscriminate—or if not so arbitrary to the women living in these areas—still highlights the adaptability of women when there are few opportunities to be anything but.
Text and Photos: Lauren Peterson