Abstract: Before the People’s War (1996) in Nepal, widows were not allowed to wear anything other than the white sari, especially in Hindu families. It was a common practice even among highly educated women. Widows were considered impure and carriers of bad luck as a result of which they were excluded from public events, such as weddings and religious ceremonies. This belief system was deeply entrenched in the history of the country spanning thousands of years. However, when hundreds of women became widows during the People’s War in Nepal, they started organizing themselves and resisting the discriminatory practice of the white sari. This article explores how widows of Nepal subverted thousands of years of this oppressive practice. It also examines the challenges that they faced in the era of the white sari and the citizenship benefits that they have achieved after liberating themselves from the shroud of widowhood.
This is the 13th Online Guest Lecture by members of the SCID Panel of Experts. Dr Punam Yadav presents a lecture entitled Impacts of Armed Conflict on Women: Lived Experiences of Women in Nepal.
Punam’s lecture considers the impact of armed conflict on women, with specific regard to the lived experiences of women in Nepal. The lecture also looks at the changing role of women after the recent conflict in Nepal and concludes that despite sufferings and hardships, women have benefited from the civil war in Nepal. The lecture also argues that programmes to support post-conflict societies need to focus on the emerging needs of people, not just on a narrow definition of recovery – as can been seen when looking at the case of women in post-conflict Nepal.
Punam is a new member of the SCID Panel of Experts and is currently a Visiting Scholar at the new Centre for Women, Peace and Security at the London School of Economics (LSE). Punam has conducted research widely in the field of gender, peace and security, and her book Social Transformation in Post Conflict Nepal: A Gender Perspective is being published by Routledge in May (2016).
Click on the link below to access Punam’s Lecture. NB Should the presentation not run automatically or the audio not work, please click ‘Save As’ (and then open once you have saved on your computer) rather than ‘Open’. Alternatively try a different browser (Firefox rather than Internet Explorer).