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Overcoming gender and disability barriers in Nepal

Posted: 6 March 2020

Nepal, Alumni, Disability, Impact, Inclusion,

Australia Global Alumni

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, we asked Australia Awards alumna Rajuna Singh from Nepal how this year’s theme of #EachforEqual resonates with her professional and personal achievements.

Rajuna graduated with a Master of Special Education from Flinders University in 2018 with the support of an Australia Awards Scholarship. Rajuna has overcome a number of barriers as a person with disability and is a role model in Nepal’s disability community and beyond.

How do you relate this year’s International Women’s Day theme of #EachforEqual to your personal and professional achievements?

“As a woman with a disability, equality has a significant meaning for me. Our community is highly patriarchal and does not see gender discrimination as an issue. The challenges that a woman with disability faces are even grimmer. I have experienced all those discriminations and challenges myself. However, I have never given up. Battling with each barrier on my path, I have achieved three Master’s degrees. These qualifications have helped me to impart my knowledge and skills to special needs children and those with cerebral palsy.

“I believe that when there is someone to support you to keep your courage and confidence alive, it can really help you to achieve your aspirations. Overcoming barriers, whether they are related to gender or disability, always requires a collective effort.

“My husband has been a great support for me to enhance my capabilities, personally and professionally. He has supported me through my academic life and my professional career; he always encourages me to go ahead with my career path, frequently reminding me that he shares and celebrates my achievements with me.

“Without my husband’s support, becoming who I am today would not have been possible. So, when we say, ‘an equal world is an enabled world’, it truly resonates to my life and career. Discrimination is not a challenge only for those who suffer from it, and it is everybody’s responsibility to overcome it.”

Australia Awards alumna Rajuna Singh with her supportive husband, Joel

What are your suggestions to others on how to take action based on this year’s theme of #EachforEqual?

“My life has taught me a lot about barriers as a female and as a person with disability. I have experienced difficulties across multiple aspects of life: when pursuing an education, participating in social activities, and even in my family life. Sometimes it is hard for people to see the perspective of a woman with disability.

“Yes, there are barriers, and they differ from person to person. However, the main thing is how we, as a community, plan to overcome those barriers. When we say ‘each for equal’, we must see ourselves as equal to others; so the first challenge is to overcome the obstacle of our own personal attitudes. When we see ourselves as equal to others, we will also treat our fellow human beings equally. This is about live and let live. This is all about humanity, and as human beings, we can collectively create an equal world; this is possible. I believe that acting on this possibility can make a vast difference, whether that be for gender equality or in the disability sphere.”

Rajuna is a Special Education Teacher and a role model in Nepal’s disability community