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!!
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.