Rebuilding Foundations

An exploration of international development work in Africa

Digression Continued

The evening after writing yesterday’s post, I met an amazing American woman who recently finished her PhD in global health.  She told me about her travels around the world to research her thesis, particularly about living in India for a year and visiting Nepal. 

She loved Nepal: she was amazed by the compassion and serenity displayed by the Nepalese people after all the hardships they’ve endured.

But she hated the way they treated women.

“They treat us like shit,” were her exact words.  “I don’t understand how their philosophy regarding their oppressors can be so progressive while their opinion of women is so archaic.”

In India, she said she constantly felt like she was channeling Gloria Steinem.  At one point she lost her temper with a group of men and said, “I have a PhD, ok?  Just because I have a vagina doesn’t mean you can disrespect me.”

Apparently, that comment didn’t go over well.

Regardless, I love meeting women like this – women who aren’t afraid to stand up for themselves and create controversy.

It’s so different from my strategy: live by example but don’t cause a big fuss about it.

When you’re traveling, it’s hard to know what’s appropriate.  Where is the line between respecting other cultures and still asserting your rights?

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2 thoughts on “Digression Continued

  1. Good to know that your friend liked Nepal, its a small country with friendly people, before the Maoist era, Nepal was famous for its friendly, hardworking and trustworthy people. Its sad that your friend had such an experience. Well, it may be true to some extend that women are not treated as an equal but times are changing and the Nepalese society is learning to respect its women and put them forward. One of the great woman of Nepal who can be compared to the Mother Teresa of modern times is Anuradha Koirala, who recently won a CNN hero of the year award.

    Also what I have personally experienced in my family is that me and my brother were always treated as equals and we were given the same opportunity to step forward in life. However, it is a sensitive topic and its needs a little more work to explore the various aspects and what have been done about it and what needs to be done about in future to make the lives of women better :).

    • Thanks for weighing in! I’ve never been to Nepal so can’t comment, but it’s always interesting to hear about other cultures – especially from someone who actually grew up in the place.

      I’ll look up Anuradha Koirala. She sounds like a fascinating person.

      Beth

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