Fighting For Your Place

No matter where you come from, the developed west side or the developing east side; one thing common between these two parts of the world is that – we women need to fight for our place in this society. Let me not get carried away and lose focus. I am a civil engineer, those who follow our blog probably know that and for those of you who don’t, let me repeat again, I am a civil engineer. So why am I saying this?? I am saying this because I have been questioned by many as to why I chose to study civil and didn’t go for some easy subject which wouldn’t require me to travel much. Thank you for the concern but no thank you. Since when did subjects start being male-centric and female-centric? I knew what I was up for and despite that I chose to study. Case closed!!

Road Building Groups (RBG) working in the construction of new road at Kalikot.

Road Building Groups (RBG) working in the construction of new road at Kalikot.

I worked at Kalikot for 3 months before being transferred to another district. Kalikot, one of the most rural districts of the least developed Karnali region of Nepal. I knew working in this remote part of the country wasn’t easy and challenges were what kept me going. We had to walk for 7-10 hours on average to reach our site because there were no roadways. I had a whole new experience during my stay at Kalikot which I shall be writing more about in my other blogs to follow. That being said, I had to interact with the local people, we were working together for the construction of new road. They would address me as baini (sister) and once they knew my profession they would start addressing me as miss. It was a forceful respect and I didn’t want that, I didn’t ask for it. Honestly, I prefer baini over miss any given day. Why force yourself to respect me, a respect that is so shallow, a respect because of my profession and not because of who I am. The respect had it’s limit and the limit was my title of engineer. Otherwise they don’t care about your degree. Out of the many experiences and realizations, one of them was, no matter how educated you are, what your profession is, if you’re a women they don’t listen to you. Women speaking is not entertained by those people. I was surprised or may be not? How do you expect to take a step ahead in development when the people who you are supposed to work with would not coordinate with you.  It’s so disrespectful on every level. Yes, I’m trying to break that stereotypical thinking of ‘women should be bound within the indoor works’ and trying to prove such minds wrong, but it looks like it isn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

Development isn’t possible until and unless the mindset of people changes. How do you expect to have a friendly working environment when people ignore you for simply being a woman? How do you empower women when they try to overshadow you and not acknowledge your presence? It takes more than manpower and resources for development to happen; we need harmony and respect for each other to work together, brace changes with open arms if it’s for good and development is a good change after all. Lets learn to see beyond caste, creed, religion, gender (you name it) and work together. Together we can.

10 thoughts on “Fighting For Your Place

  1. Well written!!
    I think this is another over hyped article about women empowerment.
    You were called bahini earlier coz they didnt know who you are or your qualification. And later you were miss because you were in your workplace, they came to that you have the qualification to tell them what to do.
    Lets take an example, ” Someone is a teacher somewhere, and you just met them randomly on street. You had casual chat and he/she even gave you really useful tips regarding your field of study. How will you address him/her?? Ofcourse Dai/Dd or Uncle/aunty. Later you find out that he/she will be teaching you in coming semester. So now you will address him/her as Sir/ Mam rite??” Will it be forced respect in this case??
    All I’m trying to say is that its just normal. In your workplace, you are miss and your opinion matters otherwise you are just a random guy/girl who has a opinion. And taking or ignoring the opinion depends on the receiver. It has nothing to do with you being a man or woman.
    And yes, you chose to work outiside of comfortable four walls and thats really great.
    But having been experienced rural and urban life myself, Today in majority of cases where women are given education, women CHOOSE to work in luxurious and comfortable environment.
    As we were lucky enough to get to study in one of the prime institutions, I want to ask you sth. How many girls were in Civil Dept.?(which gives career with lot of field work) And how many were in Computer or may be management? Its not that somebody forced them rite.
    So, I dont think it has much to do with breaking the stereotypes.
    Some thing I’ve learnt is that women are so much effected by past gender baisness that they tend to relate every thing towards them being women.
    Its high time that women of today should look beyound that.
    Having said all of these, I know i cant be over critical about situations you came across coz i didnt face them.
    Sory for being over critical 🙂


    • Dhanyabad for the comment 🙂 And no harm being critical, you just voiced out your opinions like I did.

      To start off with, I would not call this an ‘over hyped article about women empowerment.’ It’s anything but over hyped. I was just writing down my experience and what I felt. Not sorry that it came out as an over hyped women empowerment article that is if it did.

      I addressed the RE of Kalikot as ‘dai’ before I knew his position and even after knowing he was the RE, I still chose to call him ‘dai’ instead of ‘sir’. Pretty much answers your question, I guess. Just because of his position I did not choose to change the way I addressed him. What you are telling isn’t entirely wrong but what I am trying to tell isn’t either. There are situations when even in my workplace I am not ‘miss’ and I don’t mind that entirely. Respect should come from within and must be a genuine one and not entitled to our position of qualification.

      Ever wondered why women choose to work in ‘luxurious and comfortable’ environment as you mention? I guess it’s better you answer that question yourself rather than me answering it for you. Oh, and if given a chance to work in Kathmandu, Pokhara, Biratnagar or any other posh, developed area of the country and a remote place like Humla, Dolpa or Rolpa, I bet even you would or any other guy would choose city areas for a long run job. It’s not only women but human nature to choose a comfortable environment to work on. Not everyone are passionate about going into the wild.

      The number of girls studying engineering, be it civil, mechanical, computer or electrical, had more guys than girls. I do not know about management but school of science had nearly about 1:1 ratio.

      Regarding my statement ‘breaking the stereotype’. Let me explain a little more as to what I meant. What are the chances that women are given a field based job? I have seen quite a few job vacancy ads where it was exclusively mentioned for MEN ONLY. I, myself have been told and asked number of times why I chose to study civil engineering. I should have taken a subject that didn’t require me to travel much meaning civil engineering isn’t for girls. If this isn’t stereotyping then I ask you what is?

      Maybe, not everything has to do with being a women and maybe we and the society are exaggerating a little and overthinking it but there is no denying that sadly there is gender stereotyping happening all the time in the society. I don’t say only girls are stereotyped, even men are. Stereotyping in itself is bad and I’m just trying to break that. You do your bit, I shall do mine.



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