WOW | Men Speak

IS GENDER EQUALITY A REAL CONCERN FOR MEN?

Suman Shakya
Founder, Tangent Waves

A growing number of educated and informed men do believe there must be gender equality and are concerned. An educated woman educates an entire family. An empowered woman empowers an entire nation. Women are definitely better at multitasking, managing and leading as well. The constitution of Nepal 2015 is a reflection of an increasing social and political acceptance of women’s rights and involvement in the society. The nation was proud in 2017 when three women held key positions in the country – President, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and Speaker of the Parliament. However, there hasn’t been much progress in the overall improvement in the lives of girls’ and women in the country.

Nepal is still a patriarchal society and men are still hesitant to spur positive changes in reality. Adult female literacy rate is still at a dismal 44.5% (NLSS 2010/11), young women are burdened with household chores and societal restrictions with limited access to health services. Lockdown during Covid 19 pandemic has seen a rise in gender-based violence as reported by the Women’s Rehabilitation Center. One of the leading newspapers reported that a woman somewhere in Nepal dials the 1145 helpline every 10 minutes operated by the National Women Commission.

Till the time real changes in day to day activities are not made within the social and religious norms, concern for gender equality will remain cosmetic even in larger groups of educated and informed families.

Anish Gajurel
Founder/ CEO Project Gamala

Gender inequality, in the context of Nepal, is probably the longest prevailing social problem. Despite the denial of the population on the persistence of this problem, we cannot turn a blind eye to hundreds of such cases that come to light every single day. Nepal is a highly patriarchal society and on almost every measure, women are worse off than men. In 2016, the Global Gender Index ranked Nepal 110th out of 144 countries for gender parity. Women have regulated access to education, employment and experience extremely high rates of domestic violence. This prevails even in the families of highly educated individuals. Based on this data, gender inequality has not been as apparent for men in any studies or surveys. However, this cannot curtail the fact that activists while advocating for gender equality put the silent struggles and silent form of gender parity in males on the blind side. The stereotypes are what push men towards negligence, the belief that men are supposed to be the breadwinner, men aren’t supposed to cry, and men are supposed to take the lead. Everything that is in favour of women’s right might be remotely contributing to silent oppression of men.

Despite all these reasons, we still cannot say that gender inequality is a “real” concern for men here, since Nepal is soaked in extreme patriarchy. The society, no matter what, will continue to remotely oppress women and function in favour of men. Speaking in favour of men doesn’t make us anti-feminist, neither does speaking on behalf of women make us more of a feminist. But it doesn’t harm to be sure of what beliefs and principles we adhere to and act upon.

Bijay Suwal
Executive Director, Malta International

Gender inequality in men can be seen in psychological ways. It is not directly addressed as it hides under the plain sight of our norms. It is very much understood that from a young age, men are required to be the bread earners and women are required to build a house into a home. Now in this day and age, since everyone is capable of being a bread earner, if the wife is the main earner of the house and a man turns into a house husband, he is frowned upon by everyone in the society. In fact, if a man takes upon any form of profession that is dominated or entirely with female workers, that man is no longer seen as “manly”. This definition of “manly” requires all men to try and be someone they are not just to prove within the society that they are capable men. Right after birth the expectation of how a boy should turn out and how he should be is immediately instilled by the family. I believe that gender equality in men is not a direct issue that can be seen in the office or in the dos and don’ts of the house but in the expectation that a man must fulfill.

Jai Pradhan
Media Person, Presenter & Writer

Gender equality should not actually be a question or concern for men. It needs to come naturally. Once you are a part of the society, equality should not be an issue rather should be as natural as possible. Since inequality still prevails in our country, it is the responsibility of everyone to eradicate this system and come to equal terms. No one is superior or inferior.

Chandryan P. Shrestha
Principal, Malpi International School

In my context, I have three strong women and I am the only male in my nuclear family, and we have always respected each other. So for me, gender equality is not a real concern as we live in a society where both genders have equal and important roles to play. But the same may not be the case in all societies around our country. In the broader perspective of things, I strongly believe that women need to and should be empowered even more.

Pankaj Pradhananga
Director, Four Season Travel & Tours

Gender equality is a real concern regardless and such a sensitive topic should not be gender specific where it is concerning for one gender and not for the other. Specially in the context of Nepal where even today, women are expected to carry responsibility that is more domestic and their burden is overlooked as an obligation because of their gender, it is vital for men to take a stance.

To take a stance, men need to consider gender equality as a real concern. Otherwise, people would simply blame modernisation and use religion as an excuse to continue gender inequality.

Moreover, gender stereotypes is an equal issue for men even though it is not uniformly intense, men being judged for being sensitive or showing overwhelming emotions is still criticised.

Therefore, gender equality regardless of it being for men or women should be an equally serious concern for both genders.