With the continuous political changes and expanded economic activities, Nepal has witnessed enhanced gender parity and women’s empowerment. Successive governments have adopted political, legal and constitutional measures to empower women in almost all sectors of the society. Such policy interventions are premised on the philosophy that women empowerment is the key to the socio-economic transformations because women comprise more than 50 per cent of population. Sustainable and equitable development will remain a distant dream if the largest number of female citizens is not brought into the mainstream of development. In politics, Nepali women have made big strides. Women have provided effective leadership at the local governments. Every state organ must have the representation of at least 33 per cent of women. This constitutional requirement has largely been met barring some exceptions. Women have already led the Office of President, Supreme Court and Legislature-Parliament in the country.
Benefiting from the liberal political, social and economic order, many women have made to the coveted professional posts and leadership positions in banks and financial institutions (BFIs). They have proved their mettle with hard work, sincerity and integrity. Women now prefer to join banking sector owing to job security, prestige and financial rewards. According to a news report of this daily, commercial banks, development banks and finance companies have provided employment to about 54,533 people. Of them, 21,353 are female – 39.16 per cent of the total employment. Male employees stand at about 60.84 per cent. Although the number of employees went down in commercial banks in the last fiscal 2020/21 to 40,446 against 44,502 of the previous fiscal 2019/20, the ratio of male and female workers has remained almost the same. There was merger and acquisition of BFIs in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, reducing the number of employees.
Male-female ratio is 50-50 in commercial banks at the entry level while the number of female managers is steadily increasing. Unlike the state-run institutions, the private BFIs do not have reservation and quota system for women. Still, a growing number of women is joining this sector. A considerable number of women serve in managerial positions, contributing to flourish the banking sector. It is not just about security, social honour and financial incentives and facilities that have encouraged women to be bankers. Women now want to attain greater confidence, independence and become competitive in the field. By aptly tackling career challenges, they want to carve out their own path of economic freedom. This is not possible if they run only after the reservation- and quota-based jobs, which are seen as less respectable.
Female employees are considered more reliable and having more patience than men when it comes to dealing with customers. Increased level of education, skills and confidence has enabled them to achieve professional success. They also deserve praise for balancing the stressful work and family responsibilities. Ambitious female bankers have to sometime compromise their responsibility towards family and children. The banking job demands professionalism, dedication and discipline. Nevertheless, it is naive to say that there is no gender bias in the sector. Societal norms and cultural values may hinder their rise to higher positions. Increasing gender education and policy support has helped women break the glass ceiling. At the same time, it is also necessary to reduce payment gap between the male and female employees to realise a gender responsive governance system.