Working Women


I didn’t make a special effort to collect  pictures of Nepalese working women, they showed up as photo opportunities …time and time again…and I just took pictures. It was shocking at first to see tiny women hauling big sacks, and it continues to make me uncomfortable because I still don’t see men hauling weight very often…its nearly always women.   Quite what they are doing while the women are hauling rocks, I’m not so sure.  I suspect not so much.  After a day shifting bags of cements, many women then go back and cook, wait for their husbands and sons to eat their fill, and then eat what’s left.  The imbalance is astounding. The more I learn, the worse the picture grows.

women planting rice

Yet, despite all this, these were women were cheerful and worked as a team all day planting rice, and I was a welcome break from all the hardwork.  There were one or two guys there helping too.

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She was like a shoveling machine! (Note man watching!)

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Another random street photo. That’s a 50lb bag of rice!

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Hauling wood up the hill, snapped from our car.

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This is probably the most poignant of all. Ten women from the Tibetan refugee camp near Pokhara were moving a mountain of gravel to a construction site. The male supervisor stood on top of the pile barking orders and poking the gravel around with a spade.

If rural working women here even knew about the western concept of women’s liberation (and the right to work), I’m sure they would find it extremely confusing. Here a 1950’s world where women stay home to only cook and clean must see like a bridge too far.

9 thoughts on “Working Women

  1. For those of us who view the world through the lens of being Western “liberated” women, it is difficult to see other women in the roles you depict in the photos. Cultural mores often are very strong… I think change, in order to be lasting and relevant, must be initiated, organized, and paced by the women who will live the new ways… a process that takes time and baby steps. Western women’s efforts have a long history, we are proud of our achievements because we have a collective heritage of bringing about those changes.. and there is still work to be done…

    I’m ok with role- changes to occur over time, as perspectives merge into cultural updating and acceptance.
    However… where change must occur swiftly, radically, and effectively is where the welfare, health, and safety of women (and children) is jeopardized by human trafficking …

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    • Thanks for your thoughtful comments. The message that I’m getting from young 20-something Nepali men is that attitudes are changing and the future of women will be much better. Part of me wants to believe this and the other part wonders if they are just playing lip-service to the idea. How do they really treat their sisters? How will they really treat their wives? I’ve no doubt it will change quickly but I think it will be slower, as you suggest…not the next generation…but maybe several from now.

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      • It’s encouraging that there is an awareness and interest in change… that’s a good first step. Even if it was “lip service” the seed has been planted. I agree, deep changes, to remain enduring, will take time. Seems we can easily lose sight if that in our “instant gratification” world.

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