The long road to gender equality in Nepal

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The Government of Nepal is working to incorporate gender equality in all its development policies and programs. Credit: Bijay Gajmer/World Bank


Today marks International Women’s Day throughout the world. Here in Nepal, it is a joyful tribute to the fact that the country boasts three women holding key leadership positions in the country – Bidhya Devi Bhandari as President, Sushila Karki as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and Onsari Gharti Magar as Speaker of the Parliament.

All three are the first women to hold their respective posts, and the Chief Justice, especially, has been lauded as a bold and independent decision-maker.

The Constitution of Nepal 2015 has been a huge improvement from the days of yore:  Article 43 deals with the rights of women that include rights to lineage, right to safe maternity and reproduction, right against all forms of exploitation, and equal rights in family matters and property.

The Government of Nepal is also working to incorporate gender equality in all development policies and programs, including developing a gender responsive budget system.

We also have excellent examples of women making great leaps in almost all fields – science, economics, banking and finance, media, environment, education, public health, social service and development.

And in a heartening move, Chhaupadi, an inhuman practice that imposes upon women to stay outside their homes in unhygienic cow sheds during menstruation and childbirth, is set to be criminalized in the new legal code.

However, progress made in specific fields has not yet contributed to the overall improvement in girls’ and women’s lives across the country. Similarly, plans and policies do not always spur positive changes in reality.

In Nepal, the male and female literacy rates stand at 71.6% and 44.5% respectively, pointing to a huge disparity between the two genders. Credit: Bijay Gajmer/World Bank

According to the Nepal Living Standards Survey (2010/11) Nepal has an adult literacy rate of 56.6%. However, the male and female literacy rates stand at 71.6% and 44.5% respectively, pointing to a huge disparity between the two genders. The National Census 2011 states that the literacy rates of men and women in Nepal differ by 17.7%. It is then no surprise that women have less education, information, and opportunities for self-enhancement at home, let alone in the professional world.

More alarming, girls and young women, burdened by household chores and societal restrictions, are at a high risk of dropping out of school before even completing primary education.

Similarly, a National Women’s Commission Report on the Socio-Economic Status of Women in Nepal presents evidence that women have lower access to education, health services, property, social security and freedom, as well as decision-making processes.

This is a constant reminder that although Nepal has made progress, gender equality has not been achieved.

Women in Nepal still face challenges in conferring citizenship rights to their offspring without the consent and support of the father, leaving single mothers at a huge disadvantage.

Girls and young women face numerous challenges in their everyday life, ranging from the ill effects of early marriage to psychological and sexual violence, fewer opportunities in the workspace to superstitions and societal traditions that always seem to place women on a lower rung.

International Women’s Day is a day which all conscientious and thoughtful individuals must carry in their hearts and minds. If we are to make our individual countries and the entire world a better –and more equal-- place for all men and women, every single day needs to be imbibed with the basic spirit of this day.

In Nepal, the engine of change has been kicked into ignition. And each one of us is responsible to keep it running along the path to transformation.  

Join the Conversation

Rajin Thakuri Maharjan
March 27, 2017

If I bring here some objects focusing a small village containing 30 families related to Women's Education, this village has a pre-primary school until grade 2. After that they have to walk for 15 minutes until grade 5. And, after that they have to walk down for more than 2 hours crossing forests, rivers and villages to reach secondary level school.
Picturing this view, children stop attending school because of the struggles uncounted by the school. Parents are also worried their teenagers could face various social causes and unwanted risks. Those who are married were expecting to continue education but, that has been a challenge after handling households responsibilities and playing different roles in family.
Beside this, female internship students from colleges, spend time waiting for marriage proposal. And for some in positions in the institutes and planning to complete tertiary education don's want to marry because they will not fulfill their dream and goals.
Console Mission, a grassroots NGO is focusing in the Children Sustainable Education and concentrating to teach the VALUE of life and living. Girls do not have to be worried if they do not get married. They have multiple options.
Again talking about the village located at the top of the hill, an indigenous community, about the population of 150. There is only one girl who is studying Bachelor level education living away from the village. Education develops systems but, the Government need a master plan by treating the school going children as an entity for the sustainable development. And, should provide basic facilities like hostel, food and required materials for the children until they handles responsible jobs within the country.
Without providing security and safe way to complete the education, just establishing schools in the relevant places and developing standards. As well as just guiding the student by providing coaching is not integral for the progress.

George
September 28, 2018

Gender inequality is the primary cause of poverty among women across the developing world. Women in countries with low gender equality face the denial of equal rights to education, political involvement, and participation in economic activities. Gender inequality contributes to slower economic growth. To address this concern, the government of Nepal is working towards incorporating gender equality in all its economic policies and programs. The fact that currently, three women hold key leadership positions in the country (The President, Chief Justice, and Speaker of the Parliament) indicates strides taken so far by the Nepalese government in promoting gender equality. Ensuring gender equality in Nepal would increase economic growth in the country as can be seen in the case of Finland. The government of Finland incorporated gender equality in all its activities and programs through the prevention of discrimination against women, elimination of violence against women, and the promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights (Eräranta & Kantola, 2016). Gender equality has led to the reconciliation of work and family responsibilities, increased women’s participation in political decision making and the labor market, and increased women’s level of education.
Equality in political participation, the labor market, and levels of education have played a significant role in the growth of the Finnish economy (Kantola & Lombardo, 2017). The level of education among women increased the number of laborers available in the production industry. Finnish women are now in a position to contribute to economic activities rather than spending too much time on household and child-bearing activities. Different genders usually exhibit a comparative advantage in distinct areas in the labor market. Also, the incorporation of women in the labor market has reduced dependency levels (Thévenon & Del Pero, 2015). Women no longer depend on men’s funds or government aids for survival. The integration of Finnish women in all programs and activities ensured more women engage in economic activities leading to positive economic growth for the country as a whole.
References:
Eräranta, K., & Kantola, J. (2016). The Europeanization of Nordic gender equality: A Foucauldian analysis of reconciling work and family in Finland. Gender, Work & Organization, 23(4), 414-430.
Kantola, J., & Lombardo, E. (Eds.). (2017). Gender and the economic crisis in Europe: Politics, institutions, and intersectionality. Springer.
Thévenon, O., & Del Pero, A. S. (2015). Gender equality (f) or economic growth? Effects of reducing the gender gap in education on economic growth in OECD countries. Annals of Economics and Statistics/Annales d'Économie et de Statistique, (117/118), 353-377.