Press Release: Don’t Ignore Grassroots People

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Ottawa, Canada, 4 May 2007: “The grassroots people of Nepal, and especially rural women, are extremely aware of their rights and it will be almost impossible to ignore them in coming years.” These were the words of Shahrzad Arshadi, a Canadian filmmaker who is making a movie on the social status of Nepalese women. She was speaking on an interaction program “The Dreams and Realities of New Nepal” organized by South Asia Research and Resource Centre based in Montreal on April 29, 2006.

Ms Shahrzad Arshadi had returned to Canada after a tour of rural hinterlands of Nepal including places like Rolpa, a hotbed of Maoist movement. She spoke of her pleasant experiences of meeting people and was stunned by the natural beauty of Nepal. She found that the level of social and political consciousness in rural women was much beyond what economic status of the country indicates. She found that the brave women of Nepal had developed resilient communities worthy of appreciation. In remote communities like Rolpa, she found villages completely run by women who were empowered. She also met many Maoist women who had fought in the last ten years of war in Nepal and were amazed by the political consciousness of those women. She said that “Nepalese women bear potential to show to the world what women empowerment means, and the women around the world have a lot to be proud of Nepalese women.” She noticed that even those empowered women are largely bypassed by a male dominated national political scene of Nepal. She said, “Dalit and Janajati women are more empowered than the women of elite households.”

Prof. Daya Varma of McGill University, Canada, said that “Nepal became an example to the world in building massive political uprisings from the grassroots but its future course is laden with obstacles largely imposed from foreign capitals. And, Nepal is not free of Indian sphere of dominance in the region.” Dr Varma is anxious to know what may have made Nepal’s popular uprising to be so successful and whether Maoists will be successful in the government as they were in the mass uprising. Dr Dolores Chew, a political historian, cautioned saying “once in power there is rupture, and then you fracture!” She was indicating that power can be blinding and detrimental for the unity of successful organizations and was sending a message to the political leaders of Nepal. If that happens, today’s political unity can quickly disappear and Nepal may not reach a desired destiny where people are empowered, equal and free.

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