The worse problems for single women Gilesh believes are getting adequate food, children’s education and the perceptions of single women by society. Now with the new widow law paying men, she now worries about single women losing their dignity by being bought, only bringing more harm onto the woman. Gilesh has become so angered by the law that she and other women are thinking about staging a protest with the government offices in Gaighat.
Gilesh, as with many other women in the country are pleading for the government to change the subsidy restriction for single women over sixty years to all single women. Women over sixty years old generally have property and other assets accumulated over time, making the monthly 500 rupees not as valuable as it could to other younger women.
When asked about having hope with the slowly emerging “New Nepal,” Gilesh responded unfortunately with little optimism. She has traveled around to many different districts and visited government offices with no support. There is some encouragement however, the Nepali Congress has given their support in the single woman issue, and so far they have helped mediate conflicts between family members. The political party can push this issue ahead onto a larger and more immediate level.
Gilesh is not alone in her battle, Shila, her sister is also a single woman who lost her husband seven years ago from high blood pressure. She also had a baby when he passed away. Shila was able to endure through the help of her sister and today both sell rice together and live close by. They both agree they never want to remarry again.
I admire their strength to speak out, even though Gilesh admitted how difficult it is to retell her story she understands the importance of changing people’s perceptions. She requests her story be told so people can learn about the great injustice single women face in her country.
The government subsidies will not only help the well-being of women like Gilesh and Shila but also for the future of their children’s lives. Even though their children go to the government funded schools, they are still burdened by the cost of exam fees. The discrimination that is placed upon single women is affecting their entire families.
It is time for Nepali society to change it’s perceptions of single women and I believe the only way to break the injustice is for women like Gilesh and Shila to speak out. Education, at an early age should emphasize the importance of strong, independent woman thinkers so that girls grow up with a new image, a woman who can strive to excel even without a man.
Posted By Morgan St. Clair
Posted Sep 10th, 2009