Zontian Seema Golchha publishes article on International Women's Day

Vice Area 2 Director Seema Golchha from the Zonta Club of Kathmandu, Nepal, wrote an article in honor of International Women's Day, published in the national English daily, The Himalayan Times.

The newspaper has a wide audience, from lawmakers to students. Hence, the article would be able to provoke the thoughts of this range of readers. Seema is a past club president.

Read the article below.

In the news: Time to Celebrate Women's Achievements
"Every year on Women's Day, the same joke circulates, asking why there isn't a Men's Day and why only women get this special attention. It is a good time to clarify why Women's Day is important.

Let's start with a bit of history. Women's Day was first celebrated on February 28, 1909, in the United States, but it wasn't until 1975 that the United Nations started recognizing it, leading to its global celebration. However, even after all these years, the fight for women's rights is far from over.

For centuries, women were confined to domestic roles and denied access to education, travel, or the freedom to speak their minds. Men made the decisions, and women were expected to take care of the home and family. Women did not have the right to voice their opinions or make decisions within their own households, so discussing wider public affairs beyond the house was a distant dream. The hard reality is that even after a century, gender bias is prevalent, especially in South Asia, where a boy child is preferred over a girl child. Regarding education, boys are the first choice to be sent to school, and only if financial circumstances allow, girls are sent to school. Early marriage and cultural norms often act as obstacles to girls' education.

While urban areas may showcase higher rates of female education, discrimination takes on subtler forms. Decision-making within households is still dominated by men, from choosing educational institutions to financial investments and even mundane choices like holiday destinations or purchasing decisions. There are many families where men sit with the architect and decide the layout plan, and women are only consulted when planning the kitchen and pooja room. This disparity highlights a broader societal issue: women's exclusion from pivotal decision-making processes that extend beyond domestic spheres.

We've come a long way, but women's roles are still often limited to certain areas. We see women not only in traditional roles such as nursing or teaching but also in male-dominated areas like engineering, finance, or the manufacturing sector, though their representation remains disproportionately low.

As a member of the Zonta club, where we work for women's empowerment, I traveled to a village in Lumbini province for an adult education project. These women married very early and never learned to read and write. To start the conversation, I asked one of the women her name, and she kept asking me to repeat the question. Their teacher then told me that most of them have never been called by their names, and some don't even know their names or are too shy to be addressed by them. They got married at the tender age of 10-11 and were identified solely by their marital or maternal roles. The lady I was talking to must have been 45, and for the last 30 years, she was only addressed as the mother of Sonu, her eldest child. Not being called by your own name is one thing, but having completely forgotten your own name is like having no identity at all.

Going back to where we started as to why we need to celebrate Women's Day when pondering the significance of Women's Day, let's remember its essence: We do it to recognize women who have made immense contributions to our households, schools, and nations but have often been the silent partners in the journey. It's a reminder that the journey towards equality is far from over, advocating for a world where women not only have a voice but also wield influence in shaping our collective future."