Building up Nepali girls’ confidence to fight patriarchy

Photo of rows of women and girls observing self-defence moves at a course in Nepal on 29 April.

Women and girls attend a self-defence training organised by a municipal office in Kailali district, Nepal, on Monday 29 April. Photo: THT

Self-defence training for girls in Kailali (District), read the headline in a Nepali newspaper earlier this week. Similar titles appear in the media every few months, and I wonder: What about the boys and men? Why is it that girls and women, who are the targets of harassment and attacks, must also take on the burden of defending themselves?

The easy answer is: no one else is doing it. That’s not to say that authorities in Nepal are ignoring growing reports of sexual violence and harassment – a hotline set up by the Women’s Commission has reportedly counselled 8,000 survivors of violence since December 2017 – but that there’s little evidence of a collective will to address the patriarchal attitudes prevalent here that can result in the targeting of girls and women. Until that happens, it’s better that women and girls are trained to deal with these incidents. Continue reading

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New mothers get rice, rupees & a rooster!

Bhojpur doo-to-door health campaign

Officials from Arun Rural Municipality in Nepal’s Bhojpur district give a rooster to a new mother on 29 March 2019. The programme to support new mothers started in January.  Photo: The Himalayan Times

Time for me to walk my talk.

Following up on my last post about not dwelling on the negative in Nepal, I’m highlighting a very small but positive development. Municipal officials in Bhojpur district in the country’s east started a programme in January to visit new mothers.

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The view from here: the bright side of Nepal

Bayalpata_Hospital_community_health_worker_patient_(c)_Marty_LoganLiving in Kathmandu it’s way too easy to be critical of this country, which often means critical of the government and the ‘establishment’. Red tape, corruption, injustice and neglect are just some of the terms that can easily be used to describe those who wield power in this place.

Of course, this is just part of the picture: because those are exactly the issues that the media focuses on (writes the former and still sometimes journalist) they tend to be emphasised. But I know that there are positive things happening here, from the macro view of issues like declining maternal mortality and improving child health, to the growth of micro-enterprises in Kathmandu run by young Nepalis who have chosen to return home from studying overseas.

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To the Nepal media: it’s no accident!

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This has bothered me for a long time, and just Tweeting about it to my *massive* following (@martydlogan) hasn’t had any impact to date, so I’m writing this post. To be clear, I’m not doing this to ‘make fun’ of anyone’s English. In fact, I don’t think this is a case of using words unintentionally but that the words chosen reflect a cultural trait (the power of ‘fate’ in Nepal) but I’ll leave that research to interested experts.

The daily media in Nepal* continually reports about “ill-fated” road accidents, or that a vehicle “met with an accident”. The connotation is that the crash was inevitable or, in the second phrase, that the accident itself was actually the actor in the incident. This is rubbish, and I hope this style of writing will change soon because I believe that reporting the real causes of the carnage on Nepal’s roads would be one positive step in reducing it. Continue reading

Canada has best quality of life globally* (note asterik)

Marty_Logan_blog_Quality_of_life_(c) CBC

A warning sign posted at Grassy Narrows First Nation, Ontario, Canada, in 2016. Photo: Jody Porter/CBC

You live in Canada. You:

  • Have been unable to drink the water coming out of your tap without first boiling it, for 25 years in the case of one community (1);
  • Are preparing to leave your home on short notice as community leaders consider an evacuation because mould growing in houses is causing skin rashes and respiratory ailments in rising numbers of residents. There is reportedly a list of 100 children waiting to see a doctor (2);
  • Have for decades complained about deformed fish being caught in nearby rivers and lakes after a paper mill routinely dumped mercury in the waters in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, kids whose mothers ate fish from those waters are four times more likely to have learning disabilities (3);
  • Hope that your community – including your teenage daughter – will not be the next one caught up in a wave of youth suicide. For indigenous people up to the age of 44, suicide is the leading cause of death (4).

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Breathtaking Himalayan view – melting

Marty_Logan_blog_melting_Himalaya_Nepali_Times_photo

This photo from Nepali Times shows green and blue melt pools on the North Ama Dablam Glacier, where the vanishing icefall has exposed the eroded bedrock below.

I remember the first time I looked up at the Himalayan range from Nepal: I was dumbstruck. It seemed like I had to tilt my head back an extra notch in order to see to the very tops of the peaks, compared to gazing up at the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

Today I’m back in Nepal, fortunate that once a year or so I get to fly out of Kathmandu, which almost always means a view of the Himalayan range once the plane climbs above the smog and clouds. It is a magnificent sight, and I remind myself how lucky I am to be able to take to the skies – especially when the other option is the traffic on Nepal’s increasingly crowded, dust-choked roads.

But two decades later even these most majestic mountains are at risk from – you guessed it – global warming. Continue reading

Village gets electricity – in Canada

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The ceremony to announce the connection of Pikangikum to the Ontario power grid, in Dec. 2019. Photo: TBNewsWatch.com

These days I live in Nepal, where every once in a while a celebratory report appears in the news that a remote village has just been connected to the energy grid or road system. But it’s fairly rare to see such a headline in the media about Canada.

Well, here’s one — from 21 Dec. 2018!: Pikangikum, Ont., 1st remote community connected to provincial power grid. 

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