The tyrants of our past treated the culture of literacy and learning, reading and writing, as dangerous. For women, too, participating in progress and democracy meant in the first place being literate, having opinions, and becoming part of the world of letters.

Women’s education is an important part of feminist history, perhaps even the most important for the quiet and dramatic ways in which it transformed everyday life. To pursue education, Nepali women had to go against the common wisdom that saw girls’ education as an aberration, a waste, or even a threat to social order.

Feminist pioneers in Nepal all emphasized education as the key to overcoming women’s subjugated position in society. From the middle of the twentieth century, circumstances began to change and women started attending schools and colleges in ever-growing numbers. Teaching in schools also became the most significant route for women to begin their professional lives. This series brings together some glimpses of the past that capture the outward surge of girls and women through the life of study and learning. It also shows how schools uniquely fomented a collective experience for women.

Date: 1965 Location: Kathmandu, Kathmandu Description: Instructor and students at Padma Khanya College.

Date: 1965  Kathmandu, Instructor and students at Padma Khanya College.

 

Date: 1965 Location: Tansen, Palpa Description: Elementary school girls at Education Day celebration in Tansen.

Date: 1965 Location: Tansen, Palpa Description: Elementary school girls at Education Day celebration in Tansen.

Date: 1966-1967 Location: Banepa, Kavrepalanchok Description: 8th class girls of Azad High School

Date: 1966-1967 Location: Banepa, Kavrepalanchok Description: 8th class girls of Azad High School

Date: 1975 Location: Butwal, Rupandehi Description: Primary teacher training seminar at the primary school.

Date: 1975 Location: Butwal, Rupandehi Description: Primary teacher training seminar at the primary school.

Date: 1975 Location: Butwal, Rupandehi Description: 4th (?) class girls of the Lower Secondary School.

Date: 1975 Location: Butwal, Rupandehi Description: 4th (?) class girls of the Lower Secondary School.

 

Date: 1975-02-24 Location: Kathmandu, Kathmandu Description: Girl scout on the street on Coronation day.

Date: 1975-02-24 Location: Kathmandu. Description: Girl scout on the street on Coronation day of King Birendra.

 

Kathmandu | 1982 Friends Anita Pradhan, Yaso Kanti Bhattachan, Rabina Vaidya, Ratna Baba Tandukar, and Jayanti Gurung during their Bachelor’s Convocation at Dasarath Stadium. Yaso Kanti Bhattachan Collection/Nepal Picture Library

Kathmandu | 1982
Friends Anita Pradhan, Yaso Kanti Bhattachan, Rabina Vaidya, Ratna Baba Tandukar, and Jayanti Gurung during their Bachelor’s Convocation at Dasarath Stadium.
Yaso Kanti Bhattachan Collection/Nepal Picture Library

 

Kathmandu | 1972 Sulochana Manandhar and Astalaxmi Shakya among other students of Ratna Rajya Lakshmi Girls’ College. Started in 1961, RR Campus offered classes in the Humanities and Social Sciences only in the morning shift to accommodate women with busy domestic and professional schedules. Sulochana Manandhar Dhital Collection/Nepal Picture Library

Kathmandu | 1972
Sulochana Manandhar and Astalaxmi Shakya among other students of Ratna Rajya Lakshmi Girls’ College. Started in 1961, RR Campus offered classes in the Humanities and Social Sciences only in the morning shift to accommodate women with busy domestic and professional schedules.
Sulochana Manandhar Dhital Collection/Nepal Picture Library

 

Syangja | 1983 Laxmi Karki with Draupadi Gurung and Durga Gurung, who became close friends while living as tenants in Syangja to prepare for the SLC exams. All three were active cadres of communist-influenced All Nepal Independent Student Union from young age. Laxmi Karki Collection/Nepal Picture Library

Syangja | 1983
Laxmi Karki with Draupadi Gurung and Durga Gurung, who became close friends while living as tenants in Syangja to prepare for the SLC exams. All three were active cadres of communist-influenced All Nepal Independent Student Union from young age.
Laxmi Karki Collection/Nepal Picture Library

 

Jhapa | c.1993 Adult women pick up pen and paper to become learners and gain literacy in a multi-generational setting. LACC Collection/Nepal Picture Library

Jhapa | c.1993
Adult women pick up pen and paper to become learners and gain literacy in a multi-generational setting.
LACC Collection/Nepal Picture Library

Kathmandu | c.1935 Chandra Kanta Devi Malla, known as the first “guruama” of Nepal, with other instructors and students. At the time when public education was seen by the ruling elites as perilous and women’s school unheard of, Chandra Kanta managed to convince the Rana government against the odds to let her open a girls’ school in Makhantole. Chandra Kanta Devi Malla Collection/Nepal Picture Library

Kathmandu | c.1935
Chandra Kanta Devi Malla, known as the first “guruama” of Nepal, with other instructors and students. At the time when public education was seen by the ruling elites as perilous and women’s school unheard of, Chandra Kanta managed to convince the Rana government against the odds to let her open a girls’ school in Makhantole.
Chandra Kanta Devi Malla Collection/Nepal Picture Library

 

Date: 1969 Location: Chautara, Sindhupalchok Description: Student with her books and a teacher with Shree Krishna Ratna High School in the background.

Date: 1969 Location: Chautara, Sindhupalchok Description: Student with her books and a teacher with Shree Krishna Ratna High School in the background.

 

Date: 1967-05 Location: Silgadhi, Doti Description: Students standing “at ease” in the courtyard of the school; waiting for the celebration program to begin.

Date: 1967-05
Location: Silgadhi, Doti
Description: Students standing “at ease” in the courtyard of the school; waiting for the celebration program to begin.

[Feature Image: Kathmandu | 1972
Sulochana Manandhar and Astalaxmi Shakya among other students of Ratna Rajya Lakshmi Girls’ College. Started in 1961, RR Campus offered classes in the Humanities and Social Sciences only in the morning shift to accommodate women with busy domestic and professional schedules.
Sulochana Manandhar Dhital Collection/Nepal Picture Library]

These images are part of the ongoing Feminist Memory Project, which were under exhibition during Photo Kathmandu.

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