Filmmakers: Alex Gabby and Subina Shestra
After years of hereditary rule, Nepal introduced a constitutional monarchy in 1990. Widespread disaffection led to Nepal’s Communist Party launching their so-called ‘People’s War’ six years later. A Maoist insurgency was in full swing.
The Communists wanted to abolish all forms of discrimination. Women in particular saw this as a unique opportunity to win equality and many joined the movement in droves.
Just weeks before peace talks between the Maoists and the government began; film makers Alex Gabby and Subina Shestra were given extraordinary access to some of Nepal’s revolutionary women.
Comrade Nischal is a member of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). She says she joined when Maoists came to her village to explain their work and their ideologies. Having suffered physical abuse from her husband, just as her mother had with her father, Nischal decided she had to take part in the revolution.
Now almost half of the PLA is made up of women like Nischal, who joined the movement for varying personal reasons, and all to fight for the same cause. But it hasn’t been a smooth ride for them.
Half of the Maoist party members are women, proof that they are making great strides in the battle for equality. But only two women sit at the highest levels of the party, and no woman, from either side is involved in the peace talks.
Pampha Bhusal, a central committee member of the Maoist party hopes to change this. She says that the oppression against women comes from the state.
The revolutionaries face other obstacles as well. They have been accused of exploitation, violence, and forced indoctrination. But women like Comrade Neschal says that she owes her very freedom to the movement.
In the weeks approaching the peace talks, the party and its armed wing remain alert and ready to mobilise, as the stakes are as high as ever. But they also remain hopeful of a peaceful resolution, and the chance to trade in their bullets for ballots.