“I dream I am walking through

a field of their voices like ripe

wheat and the wind whistles

into my ears their stories and songs.”

– Marge Piercy – Colors Passing Through Us

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As a student in interdisciplinary studies, stories have become very important to me. Throughout my first two years of University, a lot of time was spent on theories and definitions. Only so much time can be spent there. Theories and definitions come from peoples stories, I now find it difficult to spend too much time talking theory without a story.

– Chiri is a 43 year old woman from a village near Kathmandu, Nepal. She is now part of an Artisan group called the Association of Craft Producers. She provides for her brother and his family, as well as her mother.

In her young life, she was not given the opportunity to get an education because she was a female. She stayed at home while her brothers went to school. When she was older, her marriage was arranged. Her husband to be rejected her because she was not educated. She denied any other marriage proposals for fear of being rejected again.

Her family’s farm was taken away by the government and things became even more difficult when her father passed away. After her father’s death, Chiri and her mother relied on her oldest brother for support, but his wife was very bitter about this. Chiri regretted not having and education, for if she did there would have been a better possibility of providing for herself. It was around this time that she heard about the Association of Craft Producers from a friend.

The Association of Craft Producers provided Chiri with training in weaving and felt making, as well as in design and marketing skills. She was taught the skills to provide for herself and her family. When she began working she received 15 rupees a day and now she receives 150 rupees a day, which is enough to provide for her mother, her brother and his family. Chiri is concerned about her neice and nephew. She does not want them to encounter the same hardships that she had with her lack of education. She is working hard so that they can go to school.

Chiri has gained much respect from her family and her community as she is the provider for a large family. Traditionally this is the role of the eldest son in the patriarchal society of Nepal. –

I included this story in one of my presentations in my women’s studies course. I think that it is so easy to get caught up in women’s rights in the western world that we forget that there are women from many different backgrounds that make up the discourse of women’s studies. The experience of western women is taken to be the norm. I believe that more stories like Chiri’s need to be told so that we can break out of our comfortable western viewpoint.

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