Juliette Rousselot – Nepal’s Maithil women break traditional gender roles

Mithila, Nepal – Like many women in the Maithil community in Nepal, Manjula Thakur found her life severely restricted and controlled by the male members of her family. The community follows deeply entrenched patriarchal traditions.

“I used to stay  at home all the time, with my head covered, doing the cooking and other household chores,” says the 56-year-old.

Once known as the kingdom of Videha, with its capital in Janakpur in Nepal, the historical region of Mithila encompasses some 13 districts in southeastern Nepal, as well as most of North Bihar province in India.

Mithila is home to approximately three million people in Nepal alone, making Maithili the second most widely spoken language in the country. The Maithil community is divided into castes, as are other communities in Nepal – and the successes and challenges of overcoming this system have largely stayed under the radar.