This post is about women’s status in Nepal. Nepal has more 26 million populations. Women constitute more than half of the population in Nepal and we think the female population of Nepal is among the highest in Asia. As we all know that Nepal is one of the least developed countries in the world.
Status and Role of women in Hinduism and Buddhism religion
In Hinduism and Buddhism, the status and role of women are not only high but also very respectful. so in Nepal, status and role of Nepalese women are not only high but also very respectful. She is credited with this rank because ‘Self’ found no delight without her. The very story of creation among the Hindus mentions that she was born within herself as a part which should remain in union with another half. This concept of the union of the two magnetic opposites, i.e. male and female principles. The complimentary forces are regarded as positive and negative charges. Without the female partner, the bliss of being one and state of beatitude in the union can not be obtained.
In Hinduism love and romance also began with the union of the primary couple Yama and Yami who were the first progenitors of the human race. The Rigveda also testified to the fact that Yama and Yami were the offspring of heavenly Gandharvas (celestial musicians) or were created by Brahma. As there was nobody else to perpetuate the race, Yami earnestly requested Yama to become her husband.
It is also described that four ideals i.e.kama (pleasure), dharma (religion), Artha (wealth) and moksha (salvation) can be achieved by every person and for attaining them it is obligatory for a man to have the company of a woman. Women have also been brought to bear in various practices of Yoga and Tantric rites.
Love has its origin only in the association of a woman. Poets and scholars have gloriously described the ineffable sentiments of lovers and the enchanting beauty of a woman, her youth, and her artistic body. The female force is strong and important as it provides a base for creating force and forms an organic component of the cosmic concept of living.
The concept of supreme divinity lies in the woman, the mother, and the womb. The Tantras also advocate that Kameshwara, the lord of sex should be worshipped seated with her consort. The Tantras also describe that the main companion of attraction (Krishna) is a success (Radha), his childhood companion. Rail is symbolically success or achievement. According to the Saktisangama Tantra, “A woman is the creator of the universe and the universe is her form. A woman is the foundation of the world. She is the true form of the body. A woman is the supreme form of all things. There is no jewel rarer than a woman. There have never been nor will there ever be a destiny equal to that of a woman. There is no kingdom or destination to be compared with a woman.”
Status and role of women in Nepal
In Nepal, females are worshipped as living goddesses. There are hosts of goddesses both in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Tantrism that are worshipped by Nepalese. This view is so much emphasized in this country that the law prohibits even the sacrifice of female animals.
In Nepal, women are regarded as earthly manifestations of Kali, the Queen of Gods and Goddesses. The Agama Tantra favours both sexes equally and makes no distinction between men and women, or even between respectable women and prostitutes as all women are made equal.
Tantric hold women in great esteem and call them Shakti, the power and to ill-treat Shakti or women is considered to be a cardinal sin. This is also the version of epics.
Thus, culturally the picture of women in Nepal is quite favourable. However, the socio-economic status of women is also to be considered which counteracts the cultural background there is.
Some facts about Nepal related to women
No doubt the socio-economic condition in the medieval period of Nepal was very bad. Conditions have greatly improved in modern Nepal. However, the literacy rate among women (2001) was 42.8% while in the male it was 65.5% as against the average 54.1%.
Considering some parameters pertaining to Nepalese women, the mortality rate was about 41 years while national average mortality rate was 45.5 years. Infant mortality rate estimated in 2004 was 64.4 per 1000 live births.
Life expectancy for a female is 62.50 years while for a male it is 61.76 years while average life expectancy at birth is 62.20 years. The total fertility rate of children per women of 15-49 years age is 4.1.
Statistics data shows that women are subject to both unemployment and underemployment. The majority of the women are self-employed. The total unemployment rate in the female is 9.2% while in the male is 7.0% while total employment rate is 8.1 %.
Economic condition of Nepalese women
Economically, women are weak and subjected to low paying and unskilled job. Economically active aged 10 and above male are 71.7% while females are 43.4%.
Household work i.e. rearing of children is not recognized as any significant job socially and economically.
For economic development, it is essential to entail the removal of wage discrimination, the creation of new employment opportunities, acceptance of women’s right to property, rights over children, alimony, divorce rules, recognition of household jobs as direct contributions to the economy. Besides the general development of women, their health, nutrition, fertility and life expectancy are other factors to be looked into.
The condition of rural women in Nepal
The condition of rural women in Nepal is very pathetic. In rural areas, child marriages are still prevalent. The percentage of literacy among women in rural areas is almost negligible. The population growth results in the hazards of the health of the mother and the child. Women are considered inferior to men in various ethnic groups. The condition as a whole of rural women is more critical than their counterparts in the urban society where there is more consciousness among women as regards their social and legal rights. However, in urban Nepalese women also there is a big gap between the status they enjoy in theory and in practice. Social attitudes, restrictions on mobility and lack of independent status are quite evident in urban women also.
It has now been fully realized that the lower status of women hampers the growth of human beings. The status of Nepali women is legally strong but institutionally weak. However, in the present day challenges, equal participation of both men and women is absolutely essential and its importance is being gradually realised by more and more people in the country.
In this context, it is high time for institutional reforms in the status of women for all-round development. It requires changes in traditional attitudes.
Role of women for the developing the nation
History also has played an important role in the status of women in Nepal. During the Rana regime, the status of women was lower than that of men, both in family and society. However, the new set up was very much in favour of women. The social and economic position of women was greatly augmented by various plans and programmes, institution and social reforms. This is also responsible for uplifting the status of women in Nepal even by means of reforms in the constitution through the promulgation of favourable civil codes. Modern elves of Nepal are in a better position in all fields either social or economic. They are well-placed owing to various legal and social measures adopted a few decades ago. Still owing to the lack of proper education, knowledge, and ignorance the condition has not improved to that extent. Visualising the national development plans, in all the development plans there is no specific allusion for women. As already said, the condition of rural women is still very much as it was earlier.
After being the state party to Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination enforced on September 3, 1981, sufficient efforts have been introduced to protect and promote women’s human rights. Nepalese socio-cultural beliefs, rural poverty, traditional barrier, lack of resources and realization of women’s rights are major constraints in implementing the provisions to enhance the status of women and secure women’s human right.
However, there is need of efforts to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women either created by societies, tradition, and beliefs or statutory law and administrative~po+feies to empower woman and brought them into the mainstream of development.
In Nepal, there is a great scope for studies about women, especially the village women of various ethnic groups, and their socio-economic conditions.
Let’s turn into the another part of Coin about current condition and situation of Women’s Human Rights in Nepal.
In this page, you will some facts and information about women’s human rights in Nepal.
Development unlikely to be feasible and sustainable unless there is the proportional participation of male and make- Since Nepal does such provision, it is high time to initiate it. Government and citizens should show equally be responsible for increasing women involvement in any level of work and policy formulation.
Status of Women in Nepal
Although the population of a female is greater than male in Nepal, their status is always seen. They have been always categorized as ‘second sex’ and inferior race being deprived of equal chances or opportunities. If they have already been to the leading or high post, they are discouraged and harassed.
This is due to the inequality that starts from their own ‘ family and ends at the national level. It is so because the family and nation boycott them for decision making. Their participation in the development of infrastructures is very poor. Females are social, economically, culturally and politically far behind males. They are suffering from domestic violence, cultural malpractices, and various harassments. Their situation is very poor in education, health, access to policy making, decision making, human rights, self-confidence, income generation and mainly in the participation of development work. The condition of women living in rural areas is even pathetic.
Let’s observe and evaluate the given Gender-related Indicators table to realize the actual status of females in Nepal:
|Life expectancy, 2013 (in years) (www.indexmUTtdi.com)||67.3||69.5|
|Adult literacy rate, 2013 (UNDP)||75.1%||42.8%|
|Net enrolment ratio (primary level), 2005||90.1%||83.4%|
|Net enrolment ratio (lower secondary level), 2005||49.8%||43.1%|
|Net enrolment ratio (secondary level), 2005||35.5%||29.2%|
|Enrolment in Tribhuvan University, 2004||75.1%||24.1%|
|Members of Parliament, 2005||94.1%||5.9%|
|Civil Service (Gazetted Posts), 2003||94.9%||5.1%|
About 51 % of the total population in Nepal is comprised of females. In such a situation, the development work cannot become sustainable without equal participation. If the majority is ignored, the actual progress cannot take place in a nation. Therefore, there should be equal opportunity for both men and women to bring forth economic prosperity. Equal participation ensures sustainability of the work done since there is a feeling of ‘we, ours and unity’ among each other. It also saves time, money, energy and effort. Moreover country has difficult land topography. To excel such barrier for development, the there urgency to have the equal participation of both of the genders.
Several types of research and surveys indicate that women should not be deprived of education at anY cost- Because, if a mother is educated, the whole family becomes educated and healthy. She can also assist other family members with her skill, job, and income. The lifestyle, overall civilization, standard of language, competence and performance level of the family members will grow up only if she is literate. This leads to the proper production of human resource for the development of a nation.
Efforts Made by Government to Uplift the Status of Women in Nepal
After understanding the female status, the Government of Nepal has guaranteed various rights and prerogatives to women in the new laws and constitution to empower them firmly. Some of them include the following:
■ 33 % reservation of seats has been ensured in various sectors including civil services.
■ Equal right on the parental property.
■ Acquisition of citizenship in the name of mother.
■ Right to safe abortion.
■ Positive discrimination in various agendas and priorities.
■ Encouragement for the registration of property in the name of the female with less tax or even exemption.
Solutions of the Problem related to women in Nepal
Despite such efforts, there still exists a huge gap between males and females. Thus, it should be the prime duty of government, civilians, civil society, social organizations, public and private sectors, NGOs and INGOs to collaborate and work together to empower women in Nepal. There should be awareness campaigns against the biases done against the women. And progressive society should be established by students where men and women are equal. Moreover, there should be strict implementation of the law and judicial verdicts. Such activities lead to the result of happiness, peace, security and prosperity of an individual and nation in a permanent way.
Women’s Human Rights in Nepal
Basic and fundamental rights and liberties inherent to all human to be able to live a safe, dignified, secure and civilized life are called Human Rights. Everybody regardless of nationality, sex, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, language, or another status requires human rights. We are all equally entitled to our human rights simply because we are human beings. These rights are universal and often expressed and guaranteed by international and national law. They are applicable everywhere and at every time in the sense of being universal and they are egalitarian in the sense of being the same for everyone. In the absence of such basic rights, no one can achieve all round development and growth. Lack of human rights will impede a person’s full potentiality and development.
Women’s rights are an essential component of universal human rights. Women’s rights are the rights and entitlement claimed for women and girls worldwide. Women’s rights usually refer to whether women have equality with the rights of men where women and men’s capacities are the same. It primarily seeks to balance power relations between men and women so that gender equality can be achieved. Issues commonly associated with it include to the right to bodily integrity and autonomy, to vote, to hold public office, to work, to fair wages or equal pay, to own property, to education, to serve in the military, and to have marital or parental rights etc. It also means protection of women where they are subject to special circumstances such as maternity leave or more susceptible to mistreatment as traffic in women, rape, torture etc.
It is a fact that men and women have very different experiences. Women and girls often face gender-based discrimination that puts them at increased risk of poverty, violence, ill health and poor education. In Nepal, women do most of the house works as feeding kids, cleaning house, taking care of the live stocks, washing dishes and laundry. In many cases, their works are never rewarded, everyone complains- the kids, husband, and her in-laws. While life’s all decisions are made by men. Women’s literacy is 34 % which is about half of that of the male. The median age at marriage is 16.1 years for women, and the median age at first birth is about 20 years and one in five adolescent women age 15-19 are already mothers or pregnant. Many of Nepalese girls are the victim of early marriage as early as 8 years mostly in rural areas where girls are given less education than sons. Early marriage is done so parents do not have to spend much money on them.
Since 1990, many Nepali women have been able to uplift their social life through efforts by the government as well as many organizations working in the country. Nepal is able to set up a separate ministry called Ministry of Women Children and Social Welfare to look after Women’s Development and Education. A Women Rights Commission has also been provided in the constitution. The government has taken many other initiatives to increasing their roles in different fields like village councils, government offices including military, political party levels and so on. Many NGOs such as Women For Human Rights, National Women Rights Forum, Nepal, Jagaran Nepal, Saathi, CWISH, Nepal Disabled Women Association, Asha Nepal etc are working for women and children. Our constitution has mentioned National women’s commission to empower women.
photo source: guim.co.uk
Author: Dipendra Shrestha,
Women’s Status in Nepal
This article is emailed by Dipendra Shrestha, Pokhara, Nepal. Thanks to him.
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