Development Dialogue

Development Dialogue is a language of contemporary discourses on human development which aims to stimulate each entity of the society for a new history of humanity. It stands for communicating the problems that people face and hence is more value-based than other units of human life. Envisioned with better quality of human life it admires the imagination of ordinary citizens, their daily concerns and necessities and circulate these elements in policy articulation.

11:54 AM

NEPAL : THE STRIDE TOWARDS GENDER EQUALITY AND FEMALE EMPOWERMENT



Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal or NEPAL, with an estimated population of 29,391,883 as of June 2011, a population growth rate of 1.596% and a median age of 21.6 years belongs to a patriarchal society like many countries in the world. And like many countries today, Nepal has worked and continues to make efforts to achieve gender equality.

Though it is an acknowledged fact that improvement has been made towards narrowing the gap on gender equality, to this day, it remains a struggle for women worldwide to achieve it. In Nepal, indicators show that female/male disparities have been reduced over the years. The Gender Development Index or GDI increased from 0.312 to 0.511 in the 1990s.1 However, though women now have more access to education, health care services and job opportunities, the gender disparities in these key areas continue. About two thirds of female adults and one third of male adults are illiterate and sixty percent of girls in Nepal do not have access to secondary education. 2 These are clear indicators that disparity between males and females, and a patriarchal society still exist in Nepal.
The discrimination among castes and even among ethnic groups, Nepal being largely Hindu in religion, have also contributed to the uneven distribution of educational, health access and development in these areas. As in countries where the caste system continues to be practiced, the Dalit men and women are at the far end of access to the key areas of development, while the and Brahmin or Chhetri and Newars are those who benefit the most. The development is further hampered by the decade-long conflict in the region which limited people’s access to education and health.




Empowerment of women is a critical factor in addressing gender disparity, uplifting the lives and social condition not only of women but also of the basic unit in society which is the family. Access to health and education can relate to productivity of the family and community. It is therefore, very critical to empower and give women the capacity to uplift themselves, especially the poor women from the discriminated castes and ethnic groups. This will help address major social issues on human rights violation of women, and ensure their participation in various areas of social and economic development.

Another key area in gender disparity is the discriminatory wage structures and unequal access to earned income. Though these have actually improved over the years, the women are still at the lower end of the pay scale, the Dalit and disadvantaged ethnic groups being at the lowest level. This discrimination on salary scale is however, not unique to Nepal. Even the most developed countries have this gender discrimination on wages. Statistics show that a 10-20% disparity in salary is common even among developed nations.

According to The Himalayan article, with a largely Hindu community, “the traditional practice of dowry/tilak, preference for male child, social acceptance of domestic and public violence against women, polygamy, early widowhood and associated exclusion; practices like Chaupadi, knee burning, Deuki and Badi continue to plague women. They also continue to face legal discrimination on basic rights, such as citizenship and inheritance or representation in political or administrative decision-making bodies.”

Though there have been laws, policies and regulations addressing the gender issue, it is as critical to implement and create a major shift in how gender equality is viewed. That means providing women the means to be included in the basic structure of society so they can participate and represent women in major decision-making endeavours and increase their access to resources, health benefits, and education.

The evolvement of laws and policies show the development in the government’s desire to address the gender issue. Among the significant laws is the Government of Nepal Act, 2004, the first constitution in the history of Nepal. This constitution mentioned complete equality in the eye of law and universal and equal suffrage for all adults though no clear provisions were mentioned on women.3

Under The Interim Government of Nepal Act, 2019, the second constitution, though interim in nature, it clarified that “the citizen, men and women equally, have the right to an adequate means of livelihood, equal pay for equal work for both men and women, the health and strength of workers, men and women were not abused and that they were not forced to work unsuited to them.” It was in this constitution where a provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief was specified, thus further improving the gender disparity.

The sixth constitution, The Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2063 was one of the milestones of bridging gender disparities. It was in this constitution where gender equality was mentioned for the first time. Its Article on “Rights of Women” also provisioned for the reproductive rights of women, free basic health care service, no discrimination on the basis of gender, no physical, mental or other form of violence to women, and sons and daughters to have equal rights to ancestral property. It also required that the constitutional assembly minimum of one third of total number of candidates shall be women.

There are other significant laws or policies that aim at addressing the gender issue and provide the social inclusion of women in its strategies like the Local Self Governance Act 1999 (BS 2055) which provisioned for women, economically and socially backward ethnic groups, communities and indigenous groups to be represented in different committee levels to address health services. Article 27 under the Right to Information Act 2008 (BS 2065), specifically provides for every citizen, “the right to ask for information that is of individual and common interest.” 4 This essentially states that all citizens will have the right to access information on public institutions/agencies regardless of gender.

Despite Nepal being a patriarchal society, it has shown development in terms of gender equality through improvement in health, education, employment opportunities, and social inclusion of women in key areas. Nepal’s women are not alone in their struggle to achieve this state of gender equality. It is, needless to say, a long and difficult process especially in a society where culture and tradition are not so easily disregarded. Nevertheless, each step forward reflects the country’s strive to reach what any country concerned for its citizens has been aiming to reach...gender equality.



Sources:
1 UNFPA– GenderEquality and Empowerment of Women in Nepal -
2 TheHimalayan
3 ConstitutionalDevelopment Of Gender Equality Issue In Nepal - Neetij Rai
4 Health SectorGender Equality and Social Inclusion Strategy

Contributed by:

Lylin Aguas
UNO Volunteer for Development Dialogue
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8:55 AM

Gender Equality and Development in Nepal



Gender is generally defined as socially constructed differences between male, female and third gender. It arises due to social values, beliefs and traditionally built gap between different sexes. It is distinctly differentiated from sex, which is biological matter. Nepalese society has observed male domination since its inception, religious and cultural settings of the society are main causes for.
Gender inequality does not necessary focus on women. It relates to unbalance power relation. This unequal power relation may be observed from household to supreme body of the government. Gender based violence are due to this unbalanced power relation. The side having decision making power always tries to dominate to the side having low profile in power relation.

Development is possible only when society experiences positive change in socio-economic status. Women are the most vulnerable component in relation to gender equality and development of Nepal.  Women cover more than half of the country's population. But they contribute less than one third to the country's economy from the active sector. Most of the women are running households but their contribution is not substantively observed. At present, less than 10 percent of employees are women in civil service, less than 6 percent in Nepal Police, less than 2 percent in Armed Police force. Nepal Army has about 5 percent women representation. Government of Nepal by the inclusive policy has ensured 20 percent seats of 45 percent of total in every government entity for empowerment of women. This positive discrimination for women empowerment has certainly helped Nepalese women to come up for their betterment.

Nepal has acute problem of workers' migration to gulf countries. One can hardly see youth in village. Nepalese industrial sector can neither provide enough employment to these youths nor can government retain them in agriculture. Youths' migration for work in gulf countries may have positive effects on household's economic prosperity, and ultimately country's economy, but long-term development has been in shadow. Government is still encouraging people to go abroad for work. This is ridiculous.
Nepalese families are eager enough to stay in urban area, or at least in district headquarters leaving fertile land behind bare. What could they do? Development starts from family, from individual. Family observes prosperity and development through gender balance in the family through equal power relation. Women must have economic and other decision power. Until they don't, family and ultimately country can't catch the root of development.

Dipak Bhandari
UN Volunteer, Naxal, Kathmandu.  
UNV Volunteer
For: Initiative Nepal
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8:21 AM
28th July, 2012

To say that Nepal’s transition to a democracy has been less than ideal would be an understatement. In the wake of of a post-conflict settlement meant to streamline a transition from a constitutional monarchy, the Constituent Assembly has blatantly failed to produce a new constitution within the given deadline. Mind you, their task was not an easy one. The Constituent Assembly was not only required to produce a new constitution - a monumental task in its own right, but it was also the state’s governing body at the same time.

The Constituent Assembly's inability to develop a new constitution resulted in a political stalemate, a completely halted social and economic progress and development, and finally, the international community is simply no longer engaged. The latter is especially critical because 60-70% of Nepal’s development budget consists of foreign aid. Channeling that aid occurs through political will- an engaged and effective national government. In other words, despite the state of political paralysis the country finds itself in right now, social and economic development must continue. The national government’s attention needs to be drawn to the local level - to direct that aid to community based organizations that would help the country rise to its feet again.

The greatest challenge facing the Assembly, though, was not governing and developing one of the defining documents of any country’s political, social and economic future - but coming to terms with Nepal’s rather uncomfortable history with race and ethnicity. The new Nepalese constitution would have included previsions outlining the country’s first ever Affirmative Action laws or initiatives. Prior to Nepal’s “return to democracy” in 1990, ethnic names and languages were not used in public domains due to discrimination and fear of marginlaization. Hence, the strong feelings to include some sort of corrective measure acknowledging the diverse ethnic background of the population and at the same time puts in place a rigorously researched Affirmative Action measures and initiatives that define the underlying social and cultural dynamics and applies that knowledge in a way that guarantees all citizens equal access to the state’s limited resources.

It is a complicated issue. The Assembly’s attention was divided while it should have been focused on either governing or drafting a new constitution. It has to focus on the welfare of the population and at the same time plan a future for its posterity. These debates are necessary though to the country and its future. Similar issues - citizen’s rights, role of governance, etc. - were discussed when the United States was formulating its constitution, when France and United Kingdom were formulating theirs and most recently in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia as well. This discourse is important for a state’s matriculation. Not to say all must sit back and take the role of a spectator, but rather to actively engage in that discourse and propose solutions. One might not be a member of an assembly or a political party, but initiating change at the grass-root level by becoming active in one’s own local community, opening doors for dialogue, rejecting violence and confrontations. being instigators of positive change rather than recipients of negative actions.

BMA.



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3:10 AM

NO GOVERNMENT, NO LEGISLATION....A RECEIPE FOR PEACE?


Young free and restless, the rebellious spirit thrives within us to be ourselves and break any form of constraint and rules we are put under, either the ones set by our parents, teachers, work or furthermore government. Wherever you are whatever you do the will always be some form of "governing”, how to behave, how to act, from the music we listen to or the shoes we wear to our 9-5's. From the moment we are born we are immediately governed by various types of rules to monitor our behaviour, but are all these rules really all that necessary?  Why are there so many rules, restrictions, confinements, why can't we be free?  Am we not capable of making the right decisions for ourselves, while coexisting peaceful amongst each other, the urge to murder my next door neighbour is not one I get often ( except when he is blasting the stereo at 2am), so what is the need to have "laws" which explicitly state what we all deem ethically wrong. Are we all morally corrupt that any ounce of "free will" would break into anarchy, buildings will burn, shops will be looted as the freedom fighter within us becomes drunk off my own self seeking adrenaline rush.

No Rules:

If Society had no rules, no regulations, no legislation, nothing. Totally blank slate, how would society be, how would we interact with one another? Let's explore both possibilities.On one hand, our natural human instincts would arise which would allow us to determine what is morally right and wrong.  By nature are we not care giving and loving human beings, able to coexist with each other without causing harm to each other. Rules are not needed to determine on how much space i need to give the person, society does not need to dictate these things to us. We are by nature rational and capable of making choices which reflect our needs but in a way that does not hinder others. A form of early socialism would take place. A society like this would also be peaceful, fair and not in favour of any particular group, the upper, middle and working class would all be one collective. Money, goods and anything of economic value would be distributed equally and evenly and not on the merit of what one does, but on who is most deserving? Is it not logical that the man with 5 children requires 5 loaves of bread and the man with 2 children having 2? Everyone would collectively be working together for the greater good of society rather than the individual gain. Or is this too much of socialist dream?

Some fear that we would be plagued with greed and the individual interest would override, everyman for themselves No rules, outlaw states? Another idea to explore is regardless of being without any form of governing, a leader, a strong sense of following, something, someone will step forward and be the prime.




Eto Elad
UNV Online Volunteer
For: Initiative Nepal
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9:05 AM

Nepal descended into a new crisis

Nepal has been in a state of political crisis for many decades, but this crisis has reached a new level of intensity recently. This May 2012, Nepal descended into a new crisis after rival political parties failed to reach an agreement on a new constitution before the national legislature’s term expired at midnight. The issue of ethnic states has sparked protests and violence across Nepal. It created a situation of community-caste conflict, likely disintegration of the nation-state and more so of a dangerous financial slide.

Nepal's prime minister has called elections for November after the country's warring political parties couldn't reach agreement on a new constitution.

Political instability has been the defining feature of the Nepali state during the last two decades. Nepal has had 20 governments since the introduction of democracy in 1990, the country is still emerging from the conflict with some aftershocks. Whereas, the people of the country are not sure when they would get their constitution and how would the constitution could affect the issues of development and governance even if written. The country has seen Dictator type Regime i.e. Rana Regime, Monarchy, Multiparty democracy with Constitutional Monarchy, and A decade long Armed Conflict i.e., Maoist Insurgency; Whereas, now After years of Long Armed Conflict, Nepal is moving towards reconstruction, towards state building process; a transformation phase with higher priority to constitution writing; however, People’s voice has not yet been successful in making its way into the new constitution and the policy process. With failure government, the state is struggling hard not to be tagged as “state of failure”.

 The concept of federalism is being introduced by politicians and academicians as a solution. Whereas, there is raising concern why the governments in Nepal do never became stable? What governance system do people want? How do people define Development? What does freedom mean for people? How they imagine about the new leadership?
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