Women’s empowerment and gender equality in Nepal remain far from being totally achieved. In general, Nepali women get married soon, have little or no education (especially in rural areas), depend on men, etcetera (Volunteers Initiative Nepal, n.d., and Gentle, 2019). As Volunteer Initiatives Nepal states, “If a woman does not feel safe within a society then she cannot be empowered within it” (n.d.).
While the Nepali Government has adopted new measures so as to guarantee women’s rights are safeguarded (including the ratification of both the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women [CEDAW] and its optional Protocol, among others), national norms and practices that limit women’s and girls’ voices and which are detrimental to their wellbeing are the cause why this part of the population still faces several challenges and forms of discrimination (UN Women — Asia and the Pacific, n.d., and UN OHCHR, n.d.). For instance, chhaupadi is a Hindu practice, carried out in rural communities in the far-west region of Nepal, according to which women must banish from their homes during their period, besides not being able to go to the kitchen, touch several items (such as food, religious icons or cattle), touch men, or use community water sources neither to have a bath nor to wash some clothes. This practice was ruled a human right’s violation by the Nepalese Supreme Court in 2005, even though it has continued to be practiced in some areas, and criminalized by the country’s Parliament in 2017 (Cousins, 2019).
Furthermore, women trafficking is a common practice in the country, which with the arrival of new technologies has done nothing else but to ease and increase (BBC, 2019). Nevertheless, the country’s legislation is far from being enough in order to protect Nepali women’s and girls’ rights. Technology had made it easier for traffickers and abusers to virtually contact with their “victims”; however, Nepali laws do “not address online gender-based violence” (Human Rights Watch, 2020). For the above exposed reasons, women empowerment in Nepal is now more essential than ever before. In order to do so, several organizations have been created and work on helping women access education, get better jobs and/or achieve economic independence.
Some of the current organizations devoted to empowering women and ensuring the prosperity of their communities are the following:
- UN Women Nepal, which seeks to offer economic empowerment to women and increase their participation in decision-making and leadership.
- Volunteers Initiative Nepal, which aims to improve women’s life and wellbeing, by offering them economic resources and basic education, especially in those underprivilege and rural communities.
- Seven Women, which offers “literacy classes, skills training and income generation programs” (Gentle, 2019).
- The Women’s Foundation Nepal, which stand up for a violence-free society in Nepal, and which offers a safe Shelter and assistance (legal, medical and psychological) for both women and children, providing them with access to education, training and, lastly, a job.
- Nepal Oxfam’s different projects (such as the current, which goal is to reduce gender-based violence, and early and forced marriages).
- Three Sisters’ Adventure Trekking’s programme, Empowering Women in Nepal, which aims at improving the livelihood of disadvantaged Nepali women through tourism and sports’ experiences.
- Womankind, which stands up for and seeks to empower women’s movement, especially for those disabled and indigenous women.
All in all, further measures need to be taken. Only with the Government’s support and the civil society’s cooperation will women’s empowerment become a reality in Nepal.
BBC News. (2019). The women desperate to leave Nepal. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-48154577. Accessed on the 2nd of July, 2020.
Cousins, S. (2019). In Nepal, Tradition Is Killing Women: The Hindu practice of chhaupadi is dangerous and deadly, but legislation is not enough to stop it. Retrieved from https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/01/06/in-nepal-tradition-is-killing-women-chhaupadi-womens-rights-menstruation/. Accessed on the 2nd of July, 2020.
Gentle, T. (2019). These women are blazing a new trail for equality in Nepal. Sponsored by the Intrepid Foundation. Retrieved from https://adventure.com/seven-women-nepal/. Accessed on the 2nd of July, 2020.
Human Rights Watch. (2020). Nepal Failing to Protect Women from Online Abuse. Government Should Reform the Law and Police Response to Address Rising Tide of Abuse. Retrieved from https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/05/18/nepal-failing-protect-women-online-abuse. Accessed the 2nd of July, 2020.
Oxfam. (n.d.). Oxfam in Nepal: Women Empowerment Programme. Retrieved from https://nepal.oxfam.org/what-we-do-sustainable-development-programme/women-empowerment-programme. Accessed on the 2nd of July, 2020.
Seven Women. (n.d.). Empowering marginalized women in Nepal through education and employment. Retrieved from https://sevenwomen.org/. Accessed on the 2nd of July, 2020.
The Women’s Foundation Nepal. (n.d.). About us. Retrieved from https://www.womenepal.org/about-us/about-us/. Accessed on the 2nd of July, 2020.
Three Sisters’ Adventure Trekking. (n.d.). Empowering Women Of Nepal. Retrieved from https://www.3sistersadventuretrek.com/empowering-women-of-nepal. Accessed on the 2nd of July, 2020.
UN Women — Asia and the Pacific. (n.d.). About UN Women Nepal. Retrieved from https://asiapacific.unwomen.org/en/countries/nepal/about-un-women-nepal. Accessed on the 2nd of July, 2020.
United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner. (n.d.). Status of Ratification. Interactive Dashboard: Ratification of 18 International Human Rights Treaties. Retrieved from https://indicators.ohchr.org/. Accessed on the 2nd of July, 2020.
Volunteers Initiative Nepal. (n.d.). Women’s Empowerment Program. Retrieved from https://www.volunteersinitiativenepal.org/women-empowerment-program/. Accessed on the 2nd of July, 2020.
Womankind: worldwide, equal, respected, proud. (n.d.). Focus country: Nepal. Retrieved from https://www.womankind.org.uk/where-we-work/nepal. Accessed on the 2nd of July, 2020.