When Hari started to help his wife with the household chores
“When I participated in the sessions of Sammanit Jeevan (meaning dignified living) I began to understand the discrimination between men and women. This training has helped me to internalize how I discriminate unknowingly against my wife. After I got an opportunity to participate in this training, I realized the importance of sharing the household chores. I started washing utensils and cooking food as well. I did not feel hesitant to assist my wife in household chores.” This is what Hari*, a 35-year-old young married man, said after attending Sammanit Jeevan intervention.
In Nepal, women spend most of their time taking care of their families. This leaves them with little or no time to take care of themselves. This obligatory engagement means women have to do unpaid care work, thereby denying their economic and other rights and pushes them deep into the vicious cycle of poverty. Men are very hesitant to support their wives in household chores. Recognition and redistribution of domestic care work is essential to increase the representation of women in economic activities and for true women empowerment to be realised.
The Sammanit Jeevan intervention on changing gender norms has brought small but impactful changes among a few men in a community in Baglung. It is gratifying to know that our small effort has made even just a few women’s lives easier.
Hari had not assisted his wife with domestic chores in all 15 years of their married life. He felt very hesitant and shy to do household chores and never thought about helping out with them, as he thought that these were the responsibilities of women alone. Today things are different and Hari has started helping his wife. This is an amazing shift of traditional roles from what are seen as a ‘women’s responsibility’ in Nepali society. When asked his wife Rita* said she was pleasantly surprised with her husband’s new behavior and could not believe that he is now helping her with the household chores.
The small change in Hari’s behavior has brought great happiness to his family, especially his wife. Both Hari and his wife were so thankful to have benefited from the session of the Sammanit Jeevan intervention run by VSO Nepal and BYC Baglung, a UKAID funded global initiative, What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Children.
This blog has been written by Abhina Adhikari of VSO Nepal.
* Not their real names