Women in Nepal

7 July 2016

Nepal is a landlocked country situated in South Asia between India in the South, West and East and China in the North. According to a survey done by the Central Bureau of Statistics in Nepal, the population was recorded to be 26. 62 million. In this small country there are still one hundred and one ethnic groups speaking over ninety two languages. Customs and traditions differ from one another but what remains the same is the patrilineal and patrilocal type of society that is present all across Nepal.

Although 50. 1% of the Nepalese population is made up by the women, they make up only 39% of the total literate population. In many countries within South Asia such as Nepal, women very commonly have lesser autonomy and power than men in making decisions in the society. In addition, women frequently have unequal and lesser access to education, healthcare, food, Job opportunities, various resources, and even legal rights.

Women in Nepal Essay Example

Although there have been some increase in the number of educated women in cities such as Kathmandu, the plight of the Nepalese women in the rural parts of Nepal is still very heart wrenching. Rural Nepalese women are further disadvantaged due the the lack of education and the lack of awareness of their social and legal rights making them more prone to various gender discrimination rituals and oppression. In the Nepalese society men are kept on a pedestal while women are treated like a second class citizens in their own country.

It gets even worse if one is a woman that belongs to a lower caste group in the rural part of Nepal. Most of gender bias are covered and given a facade in the form of “traditions” or “rituals” of the society which has lived on for generations. Although Nepal is going under some profound changes in the recent years major examples of such traditions are “Chaupadi,” “the local custom of isolating women from their families during menstruation” (Gaestel, 2013).

According to the 2011 estimate by the government’s Women’s Development officer in the districts, about 95% of the women in the Achham district of Nepal still practice “chaupadi. ” For generations, every month during their menstruation period women are sent to sleep outside their homes; usually in the family stable or the small sheds. They are considered to be impure and untouchable during this particular time of the month and thus are not allowed to touch communal water and food, or even enter the house and the prayer rooms. Despite the common knowledge about the various dangers of sleeping outside the house especially during the nights, women are still sent there every month. Women are vulnerable to animal attacks, physical abuse from random drunk men, and different communicable diseases due to unsanitary practices in the shed as they have to live, cook and eat there with the cattles for four to five days until they are “pure” again. Although more and more of the younger generations are attending schools and becoming aware about various social problems, Chaupadi is still taking a lot of time to change.

The other type of discriminations include child marriage: marrying their young daughters to older men since they can negotiate to pay lesser dowry. Nepal has one of the highest child marriage prevalence and places in the “8th position (among the 10 countries) worldwide,” according to “the status of the World’s Children-2011 UNICEF” (Solid Nepal). Thousands of the young Nepalese girls are withdrawn from their schools by the parents, missing out on even the basic level of education, so that they can be sent off to someone else’s house by marrying them.

Most uneducated parents do so to save their cost of having to raise a girl child since they are taken as additional burden and the same money can be used to educate and feed the son of the family who is believed to look after the family in old age and carry the family line. This might be more so because of other traditions whereby it is believed that when a parent dies, if the son of the family gives light to their bodies, they will go to heaven. Thus the this also explains why the nepalese society gives more at priority to the sons.

According to the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, more than 34 percent of the new marriages are brides under 15 years of age although child marriage has been banned in Nepal. Whereas in some parts of the country such as the Terai region, there are still more than “50 percent of marriages that involve girls under the age of 12”(IRINnews). Furthermore the other form of discrimination include child labor. Child labor has also become a huge social problem in Nepal but even more so for the girls as more number of girls are joining the labor force instead of going to school.

Though child labor is illegal in Nepal these days, according to the national child labor report, an estimate of 1. 6 million children between the age of five and seventeen are in the labor force(CNN). Three- quarters of the child labor are under the age of fourteen and most are girls. Most of them work in local restaurants, make a living as bus conductors, carry bricks, do domestic works or work in places such as a carpet factory. On contrary, most of the girls in the city live a different life as their parents realize the importance of education of women.

Even though not all get the same level of education in the city due to their class difference, the situation of women in the city is much better and they are much more fortunate than the ones still living in the rural parts of Nepal. Thus in conclusion we can see that although there has been a lot of attempts at uplifting the status of women in Nepal, there is still a long way to go as such gender bias traditions have taken a deep root in the society and can only be completely removed when more people of the society receives formal education.

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