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Why should the youth be ‘feminists’ to eliminate gender-based violence from Nepal

Photo for representation only: Youth activism
Photo for representation only: Youth activism

Ever since I became familiar with the term ‘feminism’, I witnessed so many contradictory views and opinions of people around it. There are different schools of thought on feminism and maybe for scholars, philosophers, and social activities; it is very important to know, understand and be able to differentiate from each other.

But for young people like me, the main question here is, if you cannot stand a minute when someone is being discriminated against based on their gender and you raise your voice against it, you are a feminist. As Nepal frequently sees a lot of cases of gender-based violence in society and if you are against them, there are several chances that you could be called a feminist. But, if you still have a problem with being called a feminist, you have to be ready to face it–practising feminism is more important than being called a feminist, especially in the context of Nepal.

Understanding feminism

feminist feminism
Photo: Unsplash/ Jen Theodore

If you believe in equality and equity among all humans, majorly between sexes/genders, you are a feminist. Whether people like being called one or not is entirely up to them.

For some people, it is an ideology that believes in gender equality and sets the analytical framework, which penetrates deeper to analyse how a just society can exist. For others, it is a practice that not necessarily needs to be practised within a private sphere but is practised majorly in the public sphere. For them, it works within the structure of mainstream society to integrate women into the structure.

Some feminists believe there is a need for restructuring and reordering society. And there are those who have Marxist/social feminism philosophy, which analyses the ways in which women are exploited through capitalism and the individual ownership of private property.  

Young people nowadays are very much aware that everyone has their own unique experience and way to live life and it is indeed affected by sex and gender. They do not need to know all the things and study feminism along with its dynamic in order to practice.

But, for me, it is a matter to comprehend the concept to be able to practise in my context of gender-based violence without having any confusion and moral dilemma.

I view the feminist approach as a process of learning-unlearning-relearning and having the flexible mindset to evolve and be more mindful of things around us. It is about dismantling that patriarchal mindset and reflecting it into the practices, which are there with the intention to subordinate another sex and take control over it as in the cases of gender-based violence you see around.

Instigating transformation

violence against women vaw
gender-based violence gbv
Representational image: File: As gender-based violence is prevalent in Nepal, feminism can be understood to fight against it.

Conflicts start when one belonging to one sex, race, religion and culture commences behaving like a superior and believing that one is better than others. Gender-based violence is a result of that.

We have been taught and brought up in such a culture, in which we are convinced that men and women have different gender roles. We have been taught that women are meant to be at home to take care of the family and men to go out and earn for the family.

The notions such as food only taste better when a woman serves it, the child only develops healthy or morally right when a woman raises them closely, the house looks clean when the woman sweeps, and goddess Laxmi only lives in a home where woman handles household chores and many more are the factors that block them from fully enjoying their human rights and getting exposed to gender-based violence.

At this point, young people can play the role of catalyst to convert feminism into the practice for eliminating gender-based violence and discrimination.

However, it is agreeable that feminism demands social transformation, not a radical sudden change in social culture and structure. While practising feminism is on the periphery of religious and cultural belief, we can accept the positive aspect of the culture, eliminating the negativity. This, in the long run. helps sustain the culture along with feminism.

Moreover, what young people can do is not introduce the concept of feminism as an aggressive, radical and rebellious approach but as a way of —walking the talk against gender-based violence prevalent in society. It should be taken as an approach and practice of challenging power structure, questioning in justice, having self-awareness, understanding and caring for each other, sharing power, breaking the wheel of bias and courage to be vocal enough. 

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Basnet is a development worker and gender activist, also associated with Yuwalaya.

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