Nepali Women Fighting for Change

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is a global campaign dedicated to ending gender-based violence. In participation with The Center for Women’s Global Leadership, The Women Worldwide Initiative is hosting a Blog Series entitled, More Than 16 Days, from the start of the Campaign on the International Day for the Elimination of Gender-Based Violence on November 25th, to Human Rights Day on December 10th with contributions from Women LEAD.

Written by Merina Bantha, a 2011 Women LEAD Participant.

HUMAN RIGHTS FILM WEEK, organized by HUMAN RIGHTS FILM FOCUS NEPAL (hrffn), was held in Kathmandu and Patan from Nov.17-24, 2012 in order to spread awareness about human rights through films. The main focus of hrffn is featuring film as a powerful learning tool and a catalyst for social change.

I attended the last day of the Human Rights Film Week with my organization Women LEAD. The last day was about films related to women’s rights issues. I could see people of all ages (teens to late 50s), foreigners and Nepalese, everyone in a same room watching the documentaries with the utmost interest.

The documentaries were so powerful, but they showcased one that inspired me the most: the Sari Soldiers. The six women featured in the film fought to shape Nepal’s future during the civil war. They all have different backgrounds (as lawyers, activists and soldiers), and were on opposing sides of the conflict, but they all shared the same determination, strength and courage.

I was really inspired by one old woman named Krishna, whose village was surrounded by Maoists, one of the parties fighting in the civil war. Maoists troubled her and the villagers a lot, and they burnt down her home. Fed up with the way Maoists treated them she organized a group of women to fight against the injustice. They fought; literally fought against the Maoists, just with stones and sticks they beat the hell out of the Maoists and forced them to leave the village. This makes me me believe that we don’t need resources, just the determination to accomplish whatever we aspire for. Her husband told her to not get involved in the fighting and that she was going to get herself as well as others killed, but she believed in herself and the work that she was doing. Krishna’s confidence inspires me to have faith in myself.

And there was Devi, who fought for the rescue of her daughter Maina Sunuwar after she was abducted by Royal Nepal army soldiers. They were seeking revenge because she had talked publicly about how the soldiers had raped her niece. She fought to make the abduction of her daughter known internationally. Even after she fought with all her heart she did not get to see her daughter alive again, but her battle opened the doors for many people to fight for their disappeared loved ones. This made me believe strongly that I should never give up; I should stick with my decisions, no matter how hard it seems at first. Perseverance is going make all the difference.

During the civil war I was here in Kathmandu but I was so shocked to see through the film the condition of the people living out of the city and the problems they faced. Kathmandu had public protests on the streets but the Maoists and Nepal Army were not violating people and their houses. This film made me think about that phase once again. I was so inspired by the women to be determined and not to be fearful and fight for what is right.

This film was powerful enough to make me cry and push and inspire me to fight for the truth. I want to be strongly determined and courageous, to work for what I believe in, to know my rights and use them in the best possible ways, and protect our rights from getting violated.

Attending this event reminded me to stand for WOMEN’S RIGHTS as a powerful WOMAN and help as much as I can. Human Rights Film Week showed the reality of the conflict and made me see it through new eyes. I used to think that Maoists were bad people but I see now that they too had a very good reason to fight: to uplift the village people’s status of living and to establish their rights. Maoists were fed up of getting discriminated.

So, this is how this documentary changed my view on the conflict. The women and their daring, courageous stories were so inspirational. Their determination and their fearlessness changed lives.

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