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

0 comments:

Post a Comment