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    » 07/20/2012, 00.00

    NEPAL

    Revolution of Nepalese women: from slavery of Hindu culture to flying planes

    Kalpit Parajuli

    Until a few decades ago, women were burned on the pyre of their deceased husband as a gesture of submission. Their emancipation is the visible sign a secular state and the presence of associations for women's rights in the territory. The story of Anusha Udas, a girl of 22 who become pilot thanks to perseverance and family support.

    Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - For centuries relegated to the margins of society and considered inferior to men, Nepali women have succeeded in emancipating themselves during these years of secular democracy. Some of them now occupy important positions once unthinkable and this is due to the gradual opening of the country to foreign organizations and associations for women's rights.

    Anusha Udas, 22, works as a co-pilot for Fishtail Air, a small Nepalese airline. The girl is among 28 women pilots employed in about 400 airports and runways spread across the country, where the airplane is one of the main means of transport.

    The young woman says: "As soon as I saw a plane take off into the sky at a speed that I had never seen before, I knew I was destined to fly. My heart started pounding and that was a sign to me, so I decided to follow my dream. " To achieve this dream, Udas faced the harsh dictates of the Hindu society of Nepal, where until a few decades ago Sati-pratha was practiced, where widows were burned on the funeral pyre of their husband.

    Unlike other families, the girl's parents are part of a more open generation. They have lived through the period of civil war between the monarchy and the Maoists that in 2007 led to the fall of the Hindu kingdom and the proclamation of a secular state. However, Udas also needed to great perseverance and determination to convince her father to send to her to South Africa for a pilot's course. In Nepal there are no schools of aviation, the only option is to go abroad, with costs which may extend to 58 thousand dollars.  

    After the course, Udas returned to Nepal in search of work, knocking on the doors of all the airlines in the country, only to hear each and every time that this was not a woman's work, flying is too strenuous. After nine months of repeated disappointments, Fishtail Air, a small short-staffed local transport company took her on and in a short time she became a co-pilot. "Now my dream is to become a captain - she says - the next goal is to reach the thousands of flight hours required by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.

    Born in the 50s, the Nepal Air Force has always been a place for men only. The first woman to enroll in a course for pilots was Prabha Vaidya in 1979. The course was organized by the Canadian government, which had offered the opportunity to train Nepalese pilots. Vaidya presented herself along with 24 other candidates, but her application was denied because of her gender. She never became a pilot, but was the first woman air traffic controller in the history of Nepal.

     

     

     

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    See also

    29/05/2006 NEPAL
    Hindus protest "secular" status of Nepal

    Around 10,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Birgunj in the south of the country. A Hindu democracy activist sees the hand of the monarchists behind the protests.



    22/05/2006 NEPAL
    Nepal is secular state: minorities happy

    According to minority groups, the historic decision of parliament is "revolutionary and democratic". The 1990 constitution had described the country as a "Hindu state".



    03/08/2011 NEPAL
    Nepalese Muslims pray for tolerance during Ramadan
    Islamic leaders preach respect for other religious communities. The country still debates choice of a secular state or a return to a Hindu monarchy.

    29/12/2010 NEPAL
    Nepal government protecting Christmas to counter economic crisis
    The initiative lets Catholics and Protestants celebrate Christmas without fear from Hindu extremists. “Christian activities that do not harm the country are welcome in Nepal,” Foreign minister says.

    16/05/2012 NEPAL
    Whole regions without food as strikes and protests are held against the new constitution
    Demonstrations have plunged the country into chaos. A 19-day general strike has grounded air transport to the western districts. More than 30 people have been hurt in clashes between indigenous groups and opponents of federalism. Ban Ki-Moon calls on Nepal to respect minorities in the new constitution.



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