March 8 is celebrated as International Women’s day. It is the celebration of the social, political and economical achievements of women focusing world attention on areas requiring further action. Well Women’s Day globally celebrated everyday, as there are many events, awareness, advocacy and policy reforms regarding women’s issues worldwide. It might be regrading women’s equality, education, sexual & reproductive health, empowerment, employment, involvement and meaningful participation. The world says, “Let’s involve women in Development”. What does this mean? Women are part of Development and they are already there.
The Women’s Day in Nepal is the state holiday. But this year the day comes on Saturday. In this day millions of Nepalese women must be doing the regular domestic businesses. Millions of them must have gone to the nearby forest to collect fodders or firewood, cleaning their house, doing laundry and daily chore; for them the women’s day does not make any difference.
Did you know that Nepal is the only country in the world where Women’s life expectancy is shorter than men?
Girl in Nepal work twice as much than Boys. Women’s literacy is about 27% while men’s literacy is 63%. The median age at marriage is 17.5 years for the women and rural women getting married one year earlier than the urban ones. The median age at first birth is about 20 years and one in five adolescent women age 15-19 are already mothers and pregnant with their first child.
Every year hundreds of Nepali girls as young as 11 years are trafficked to India and other countries. Every year upto 7,000 Nepalese girls are trafficked into the red light districts in Indian cities.
From villages innocent girls are lured into believing that they would be offered a job in cities like Kathmandu, them they eventually end up locked in brothels where they get locked up and she is used until she gets sick or has diseases like HIV, then she id umped out of the brothels with no where to go. Most commit suicide, while some return back to Nepal to get help from some social organizations, while some go hidden in prostitution.
Many of Nepalese girls are the victim of early marriage as early as 8 years old mostly in villages and in rural areas where parents give less education to daughters than sons and that they believe that girls are supposed to be doing household works. Early marriage is done so parents don’t have to take care of their daughter and also do not have to spend money.
Dowry means wife’s family gives money or assets to husband’s family during or before marriage. In Nepal dowry means daijo. In rural areas dowry thrives while in cities its presence can still be felt in a lesser magnitude. Dowry in poor countries like Nepal means of acquiring high status. Often families paying hefty dowry gets a boost in his or her status. Education can wash away dusts of a society. To thousands of marriages takes place without dowry. But still dowry system is prevalence in Nepali society which resulted in domestic violence.
Status of Women in Nepal:
- When It comes to getting into school and colleges, Nepalese women don’t get same opportunity as that of males. Women’s Literacy rate is 34%, which is about half of that of male.
- Since 1990, many Nepali women have been able to uplift their social life through efforts by the Government as well as non profit organizations working in the country. Since then, Nepal is able to setup and administer a separate Ministry that looks after Women’s Development, Rights and Education – The Ministry is Called Ministry of Women Children and Social Welfare
- Nepal has certain school grades free with an aim to bring more children to school. However, extreme rural location of school and lack of basic infrastructure such as roads and bridges still remain problem for many children.
- In 1990, Nepalese women increased their role in village councils. Government thus allocated 20% seats for female at village ward level and continues to do so in other Government offices, party levels and so on.
- Nepal has recognized Safe Abortion as women’s human right. Safe abortion was legalized in Nepal in 2002. The law has enabled women’s rights to control over and decide on their unintended pregnancies.
But still male ministers are responsible for doing the business of women in the male-dominated society. It is not surprising that the male ministers do not enforce the laws, rules and regulations concerning the women’s rights. So, despite the equal rights of women to the parental property, parents do not share their parental property with their female offspring. The most encouraging thing concerning the women’s empowerment in Nepal is about 33% of the members of the Constituent Assembly will certainly voice for the equal rights to be made in the new constitution being written currently. Another one is Nepalese political parties have made rules for making one-third of women in their leadership positions. Well fingers are crossed for this participation not be tokenism or decoration. However, most of the political parties have failed in enforcing the rule.
Therefore it is 365th Women’s Day of a year. Globally there is struggle everyday, every moment and every minute for women’s social, political and economical empowerment.