Dear Friends, i know you as busy as i am doing the module 4 assignment but i am much hopeful that you will go through it and give me suggestions to make it a beautiful piece! This is the rough draft and i haven't even corrected my grammars and rearranged the sentence structure! i need time for that but before i do that i need you precious comments and suggestions :):):) here it is.....
While we are talking about to stop gender discrimination and fighting for the women rights, we cannot miss the women in Kathmandu who are driving the tempos from last few years and some of them even has started to drive the Micro Bus creating the examples that there is no such barriers for women to work in any field if they want.
'My work is my god and it's not wrong thing to worship god' Sita says when I ask about her work. Sita Thapa, 34 years from Nuwakot is one of the first 5 women Tempo Drivers of Nepal who was even honored by the president of Maiti Nepal-Ms. Anuradha Koirala (CNN hero 2010) in International Women's Day 7 years ago. A tempo is a three-wheeled battery-powered vehicle used as a taxi.
Sita used to do the labor work - sand filtering, when she came to Kathmandu with her three children 12 years ago. Her work wedges and her husband's low salary was not enough to fulfill her family's daily needs. After working hard for 6 months she got opportunity to work in the Noodles Factory for 1 year and then again in Plastic Factory and her work went on and on like that with little improvement in different types of labor work. On the way to office and home, she had used to watch very carefully to the women who are driving the Car on the road of Kathmandu. She never dreamt of owning the one as even to fulfill her daily needs was hard at that time but she used dream that if somebody would teach her the driving and hire her, she would love to do the driving. She used to think how wonderful it would be to learn the driving. She had misunderstood that only who can read and write and only who knows the better English can drive the car and as she had never gone to school she used to think that it's impossible to learn the driving.
One day at Sundhara- the heart of the city, she saw a woman, coming out of the Car after parking it. She was feeling odd to talk to her but she thought she had to ask the lady about the driving anyhow. So she asked the lady if only literate people who know English very well can learn and drive the car. But that lady replied harshly that only those people who can afford to have car can drive the one. That sentence pinched her heart like anything and she decided herself that she would learn driving one day no matter what it will cost.
In the same days she heard the news about the first female tempo driver and she had the strong desire to meet the lady but as she had not have any address and contact she couldn't meet her. And it was hard to find the only tempo driver in the big city of Kathmandu. It couldn't stop her from finding the way to learn drive as she had already decided to do so. But then she knew one of the boys who used to drive the Tempo. She requested him to teach her the driving but he replied it will cost Rs. 5000 (72 $) and Rs. 5000 was her 2 months' salary then. She promised him that she will pay half of the cost in the beginning and half after completing the course and the boy agreed to her and she began hes classes.
But unfortunately the boy returned to his village because of his marriage and she could only do the classes for 7-8 days after spending her hard earned money. Luckily Kumar Sir- the Tempo Owner called her one day and asked her if she can drive the tempo. She replied she can drive it in front but she can't operate the back gear. Kumar sir encouraged her that she can do it. So she tried to drive the tempo in the back direction in a garage but she hit the pole of the garage and she was really scared that the kumar sir would scold her. But Kumar sir told her that now she is perfect to drive it on the road of the Kathamndu City and gave her permission to take the Tempo on the road and also told her to bring some earned money, only becoming careful not to hit anyone on the road. She drove the Tempo for the first time on the road of Kathmandu without the license. At that time she didn't have license but Kumar sir helped her for all the formalities afterwards.
Her first salary was Rs. 4000 and she had to drive from 6 in the morning to 7 in the evening. At that time her kids were very small and she used to leave them in neighbor's home to take care of them saying that she would bring some vegetables for them when she will come back from her driving job. She also managed to look after her children when she had little time in the afternoon when she had to take the tempo to the garage to change the battery.
She drove Kumar sirs' Tempo for some years and collected some money and was able to buy the new tempo in Loan in 2005. In between she stopped driving and even joined a NGO working for marginalized cast. But driving was something she could never leave and again came back to the same field. Now she owns 2 tempos, she drives the one and has hired other woman to drive her other tempo with Rs. 7000 salary (100$).Her monthly income from tempo is around Rs. 25,000 per month (350$) and she saves around 200$ after fulfilling all her family's need and after paying the loan installments in the bank.
Her standard of life has been improved. With her good income she has shifted her children from government school to English boarding school and all the children are also doing well in their study and she also manages to visit the school time to time to know about their improvements. She can now afford to eat meat in her daily food and also provide nutrition food to her children. As her husband is employed in Nepal Army he hardly gets time to be them but Sita manages it all, from looking after the expenses to taking care of children's education. She says- 'I can proudly say, I am the man of the house in practical!'
Sita represents numbers of women in Kathmandu who are making their living- a good living by driving the Tempo. Driving the private vehicle is not new but women being the professional driver are still new for this male dominated society. But women are making their way to change the people's thinking by taking these challenges and making it as an opportunity for economic independence. There are more than 700 electric tempos in Kathmandu valley and around 150 regular female drivers and 350 are part time women drivers. Among them around 70 women drivers drive their own tempos which they have brought on the loan. Now some women have also started driving the Micro Bus which is quite challenging but they are really doing well.
The women in Kathmandu started driving the tempos from 2000 as a profession and until now there have been many women who have learned the driving. They have been the good drivers even the traffic police say they follow rules and they drive very carefully rather than the male drivers. Females are no less capable of operating automobiles, yet the stereotype exists. In the beginning people used to be in line on the road to see women driving the tempo but these days they prefer to use the tempo which is driven by women. They say – we feel safer because they drive carefully. And these days there are numbers of examples that men also helps on household works when they are on the road driving these vehicles.
Tempo are easy to operate and are safe and one can earn the good money from it so may be this is the reason why women are attracted to drive the tempos. Working time- from 6 am to 7 pm is also a comfortable time for women to work. It has employed many house wives and girls who are in the capital –Kathmandu in search of employment. There are some challenges too that people think that women in these driving profession are not good morally which is just the stereotype. But women in driving profession also feel that they should be given some literacy program so that they would understand the terms in this field.
According to Central Bureau of Statistics, in Nepal Labor Force Survey 2008( the second survey, first survey was done in 1998), the involvement of men in household work has been increased by 9%, from 47.7 % to 56.9 %. If we see the involvement in household work of above 15 years, men have spent 5-7 hours in 7 days and women have spent 23.5 hours in a week. The numbers of families with the female ownership has been also increased from 49.8 percent to 63.2 percent. Among the 417434 total household in Nepal, there are 32766 female ownerships with house, land and livestock. Percent of literate women has increased from 35.8 % to 53.1 percent. The number of women who have never been to school has been decreased 75.7 percent to 58.2 which is very much acceptable. The women who are financially active are 66 % (40 hours a week).
Women involved in manufacturing establishments (2006/7 survey) are of 17.6 %. Likewise out of 601 constituent assembly members female number are 197 which is the new hope for women of Nepal being represented in decision making levels. Women judges in court (2009) are 5 out of 219 of total numbers of judges in Nepal. Women in Police Service are 2999 out of 55259 polices in Nepal (2009). Women in civil service till 2009 were 8769 out of 78138 of total number. The female population gone abroad for employment are 4538(2009) out of 242225. Wife's cash earning compared to husband's cash earning; more than husband's earning is 5% whereas less than husband's earning is 69.6 %.
Though we can see that women are employed in all the work fields but comparing to the total number women's involvements is still less. Except the official job other traditional kind of work women do is like owning the small/big shops, selling vegetables, doing labor work, working on wedges, working on garment and other factories. But driving is something against all these traditional kind of job. As people still call it a men's profession. Being a woman in driving profession is not so easy in this society. They have to rude passengers to the harsh owner and if they do some mistakes they say it's all because of gender differences. People say that Men are born to be stronger and women are weak and are not able to do these challenging jobs.
But we can find these women in driving profession are much confident and are even managing their family and work time so well. Binita Shrestha, 29 years, who has been driving the vehicle of the Swiss ambassador in Kathmandu right now after driving the tempo for 1 and half year, agrees that women are brought up in the environment where it is taught that women are only born for household work not for outside work. But working in this field for last few years she had learned many things and is able to fix the problems of the vehicles of she finds any. She earns Rs. 25,000 per month (358$) and it is the officer level salary in Nepal. Gyanu Maya Lama, 22 years was once in Qatar doing the labor work but now she is
more satisfied driving the Tempo in Kathmandu with the good earning money to fulfill her daily needs and also living with the dignity in own country.
There are good foreign donors who spend money for the driving training for women but these funds have been misused by some people by showing the false records. It has been seen necessary that donors should check the documents carefully and should consult the related people before sending the fund otherwise men would be selling the women's name and the funds would be misused as it has been done by some.
The government also has to give more facilities for women so that they have easy and affordable access to learn driving and be in this profession. The women in these driving professions are the testimony for the women empowerment in the country where women have been discriminated in many ways and are called the weaker generation. If people accept women in driving profession easily then this can encourage women to enter into many other fields where women have not been to. There are also other examples of women being in other profession like tourist guide which has also broke the barriers for women to be in challenging work fields.
We are hopeful that the new constitution will also include some facilities for women to have opportunities in different fields in Nepal. And we also need to break the stereotypes that women are only born to be in household work. By encouraging women to be in these fields and supporting the women who are already doing these challenging jobs we can empower women, we can decrease gender discrimination and we can break the wrong stereotypes. Only if we create equity then only we create and maintain equality in our society.
The role has to be played by all, the Political Parties, Business Industries, Civil societies and me and you!!!