POKHARA, September 9, 2023 – Saathi recently hosted its annual event, TEEJ Talks on the occasion of Teej festival. A departure from tradition, this event rephrases TEEJ as Tales of Equality, Empowerment and Joy.
TEEJ Talks, a flagship initiative launched by Saathi in 2015, brings together speakers from diverse backgrounds to share their personal journeys of transformation, highlighting their triumphs over gender biases, societal barriers, gender-based violence, and stereotypes.
This year’s event featured four inspirational speakers, two male and two female, who captivated the audience with their powerful narratives.
Saathi’s President, Sajani Amatya, welcomed participants and speakers, emphasizing the importance of preserving cultural heritage while ensuring gender equality in festival celebrations. Amatya remarked that it is a collective responsibility to demystify harmful traditional practices often associated with cultural festivals.
Dr. Bikash Gauchan, Executive Director at the Infectious and Communicable Disease Hospital in Pokhara, shared his experiences working in remote regions of western Nepal, focusing on sexual and reproductive health issues faced by women and girls. Dr. Gauchan shed light on challenges such as limited access to safe abortion, inadequate birthing centers, and low awareness levels among the population.
Kunjani Pariyar shared an emotional journey, recounting how she had to change her surname to escape discrimination against Dalit girls at school. She also shared her mother’s courageous struggle as a single parent to provide her with a quality education. Kunjani, now a human rights lawyer, has dedicated herself to assisting women facing violence, social stigmatization, and various forms of deprivation in accessing justice.
Renowned musician Binod Baniya paid tribute to mothers for their profound contributions to the lives of their children, emphasizing the sacrifices and hardships they endure. He shared personal anecdotes of his mother’s struggles and expressed hopes for a brighter future.
Noted actor Karishma Manandhar addressed the enduring traditional views associated with daughters-in-law in Nepali society. She stressed the importance of affording all women equal treatment and opportunities to realize their dreams and potential.
The visionary behind Teej Talks, Bandana Rana, who currently serves as an expert member in the UN CEDAW committee, highlighted that TEEJ Talks extends beyond the festival itself. It serves as a platform to critique harmful gender norms and debunk mindsets and behaviors rooted in patriarchy and male superiority.
The event provides a platform for open dialogue and the empowerment of women and marginalized communities. It was a testament to Saathi’s unwavering commitment to breaking down barriers and creating a more inclusive and equitable society.