The Centre was recently visited by Sami Thapa, a feminist activist from Nepal and founder of Samida Women Development Forum. She came to find out about our work and to talk to us about some of the issues facing women in her own country.
This is a short piece she wrote about some of the issues around citizenship for single mothers in Nepal:
Being a single mother, especially in a developing country, teaches you a lot and I have learned a lot and I write this because I don’t want the future generation to go through what I have gone through.
For you and I, with both parents, getting a citizenship is like eating a piece of cake. You walk into the office, fill out a few from and the next day you are handed the citizenship. But for a child of a single
parent, especially a single mother, the pain is endless. And I have gone through this pain while trying to get a ‘nabalak parichaya patra’ (child citizenship certificate) for my son.
Every document asks for the father’s name and his signature. And where am I suppose to find the man that had left the two of us?
I felt my son, who was born in this country, whose both parents were born in this country, yet still he remained stateless in his own country.
I was strong enough to get my son the right he deserved. But I saw many other single mothers children suffering from the same sad situation. They had no place to raise their voice, and even if they voiced their thoughts, their voices were never heard.
So, this made me determined to fight not only for my son but for many more sisters and mothers like me.
It was the time of the constitution drafting phase in Nepal. If I went alone, my voice would also be swallowed by the walls of the constitutional assembly. So, I knew my voice had to be echoed again
and again. Instead of I, it had to be We.
So, we, like-minded organisations of around 30 got together and we decided to fight for our right and in the constitution, instead of “father and mother” but we wanted it to be changed to “father or mother”.
Our slogan became “Or not And”. We had sit-ins in-front of the constituent assembly. We had a hunger strike. We had many classes with the police. And one day the speaker of the house invited us to hear
our voice in his chamber at the parliament building.
After that the struggle did not end. We had to keep our voices heard. Then finally the constitution gave the right we deserved. That day, the tears of joy and pain flowed down my eyes for hours, I could
not sleep for days. The fight I had been fighting for so many years and the fight so many had also been fighting for had finally came to an end.
I was happy not only for myself but for many sisters and mothers whose were turned blind eye to and whose voices had gone in vain.
Some people don’t realise the importance of citizenship, the reason is they have it. But for a person without a citizenship he can’t go to school, he can’t get a job, he can’t open a bank account, he can’t get
a driving license.
I heard a song ‘You don’t know a good thing till its gone, then you think of all bad thing you have done’. You don’t know the importance of citizenship until you lose it or when you need it you don’t have
Although the constitution has been drafted. The implementation is still very difficult. And to date, our struggle continues. Although the road has been sketched, we are still in the phase of paving it. It
will take time before a vehicle will pass smoothly.