In the Philippines, men and women may still not have achieved equality, but the condition of women in this Southeast Asian country is way better compared to that in Nepal. Whereas women in the Philippines can almost compete neck to neck with men for executive positions and plum jobs, in Nepal, many women have found it hard not just to break the glass ceiling but to actually join the paid labor force.
According to findings, the participation of women and men in labor is 48.9% and 67.6% respectively. The majority of these women, however, settle for low-wage jobs like subsistence farming, weaving, or other jobs in the informal sectors. Other Nepalese women, if not preoccupied with farming, are mostly performing unpaid domestic chores which may have longer working hours than men face, but which have no economic bearing.
Nepal is not turning a blind eye on this scenario, however, as it has taken steps in order encourage women to step up and become more active partners in the country’s development. In 2007, an interim constitution was passed, which required one-third of every party’s candidates to be female. Although none of the parties actually reached the required percentage, the move was a good step toward increasing women’s participation in decision making and in the peace process.
Increasing the representation of women in government can help give women more opportunities in education and in the labor force. This is the first step toward creating more gender-sensitive laws that will hopefully reduce social barriers faced by women belonging to different social classes, castes, ethnic minorities, and marginalized groups.
The act of giving opportunities to make decisions is a bold step in advocating for the rights of women in traditional societies and eventually ending the feminization of poverty.