Then there was a newly formed organization, established in Kathmandu some years ago. Onekija (younger brother) from this organization contacted me for suggestions and for other purposes. When I asked him about the objectives of their organization, he mentioned a couple of them, one of which was “to show to the world that the Newars are well-to-do (सम्पन्न) from every aspect.” I could not agree with that particular purpose. From socio-economic point of view, the diversity (disparity in the true sense) among the Newars is highly polarized. We all know there are highly educated Newars on the one hand while there still are those who cannot afford to send their children to school. Similarly, there are millionaires and billionaires among the Newars, at the same time many Newars in Nepal do not have enough money even for two simple meals a day despite the women from these families working as dishwashers in a number of well-to-do households.

In addition, one should not forget that women’s autonomy is also extremely diverse among the Newars. There are some Newar societies where women have freedom of speech and of talking to the opposite sex and freedom to move around whereas women in a number of Newar societies and castes do not have that kind of freedom, especially for daughters-in-law. Most often daughters-in-law in certain caste groups are being confined at home and to household chores. Let us not forget that many Newar women are still being suppressed in a number of ways in families of some castes. Different households have similar stories: not only is there a disparity between a daughter and a daughter-in-law in some Newar households in Nepal but also between a son and a daughter. Although male and female babies and toddlers are equally loved and cared for in most cases, there are cases where Newar parents treat sons and daughters differently even today, most often sons are sent to expensive schools while daughters are sent to government/free schools.

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July 14th, 2015

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