Republic Day- 2023

Improved Status Of Women In Republic Nepal


The past two decades have been full of struggle in terms of fostering equality and justice in Nepali society. Nepal has seen various political movements, transitioning from monarchy to multiparty democracy and finally culminating in the Federal Democratic Republic. Nepali women have been at the forefront of every movement to protect self-respect, sovereignty and democracy. Although Nepali society is patriarchal, women have succeeded in establishing themselves as key actors in socio-political changes.

Leadership development

The participation of women was laudable during the April Uprising 2006. Women's active participation continued to be wider, deeper, and fiercer. Building a society with human dignity and self-respect based on equality, inclusive participation, and social justice through economic and socio-cultural transformation is the main goal of the federal democratic republic. Before the establishment of the Republic set up, the representation of women outside the hearth and home could be counted on fingers.

The model of inclusion is demonstrated through Nepal's federal parliament, provincial assemblies, and local levels. The increasing level of inclusion is widely recognised as a silent revolution that is transforming the power and leadership structure of society. Women make up more than 33 per cent of the legislators at all three levels of government. Similarly, there are 91 women lawmakers elected to the House of Representatives. Of the 165 lawmakers elected to the House of Representatives under the first-past-the-post (FPTP) category, there are only nine women, while 82 women have been elected through the proportional (PR) electoral system. This is not enough, but still, this representation of women has endured many intersecting forms of prejudice.

Social consciousness 

Nepali women’s status after Nepal became a federal republic has changed dramatically. They joined hands with their male counterparts in the democratic struggles and proved their mettle in the fight for freedom. Now they are in the race to increase their representation in the parliament, government machinery, civil service, judiciary, business and other areas. In terms of awareness, women are at a higher level and raising their voices against social stigma, stereotypes and the age-old culture of discrimination. They are struggling to be empowered and capable.

In the past, women were forced to confine themselves within the four walls of the house. They were forced to embrace the belief that they were dependent on the family's male members. However, today's women are more confident that they can excel in any field they choose and support their families on their own. There has been a significant shift in women's leadership, ideas and performance over the years.

Nepali women had the subordinate status of being uneducated, less educated, economically vulnerable and dependent on their male kin, due to which they were identified as a ‘vulnerable group.’ However, with social consciousness and inclusive state policy in the republican system of governance, they have access to education, social security, health, employment and participation in political, civic and social activities.

 Economic status 

The economic condition of women is also improving. During the time of the first government formed after the establishment of the Federal Democratic Republic, there was a provision of tax exemption if real estate and assets were kept in the name of women. Otherwise, it was less customary to keep property ownership in the name of women, except for inherited property. The constitution of Nepal has provided equal rights to women in property. The property rights of women have been ensured. It has made women morally strong. The way forward is to achieve more rights through political and social transformation.

Nepali women are now engaged in industry, business, trade and other economic activities. They have been enrolled in the army, police and administration, where they have occupied high positions. The number of literate and educated women has increased. Benefiting from the inclusive participation ensured by the constitution, women are becoming more competitive with men in public service. However, it is not to say that everything about women’s status is satisfactory: a large portion of women are still lagging behind and are compelled to stay backward. Even after reaching the top position, women have not been able to get the same dignity and respect as men. This is why much more needs to be done for the empowerment of women. The government should develop a strategy to provide economic recognition for domestic work done by women. It should not be forgotten that the share of work done by women at home contributes significantly to the country's gross domestic product.

 Struggles for rights not over

Movements for rights are still required for those who are socially, economically, and politically backward. If the constitution is implemented strictly, women's positions will be better than they are now. The level of political consciousness among women has increased since the nation became a republic. Now we see a big change, even in outlying villages. The women who refused to leave the house before are now joining mothers' groups and political organisations. They have developed the ability to speak their minds and to respond. Many of them have even taken up foreign employment.

Nepal has undergone massive socio-political changes from the Rana rule to the Panchayat era to the Maoist insurgency and the Federal Democratic Republic. Women have continuously challenged the patriarchal mindset in all fraternities. They have initiated various movements to attain and protect their rights and dignity. Women have been successful in holding dignified positions like the President, Speaker and Chief Justice, which sends a good message from Nepal to the world. This became possible only after the advent of the Federal Democratic Republic in the country. The representation of women has increased comparatively in local and general elections, which are the main basis of democracy. Still, the achievements attained are not sufficient. Intensive action among all actors is essential.

The political parties and concerned authorities should work to ensure women’s active participation and leadership at all levels of development planning processes and in decision-making places. All the political parties, government and non-government mechanisms need to formulate women-targeted economic and political empowerment programmes.

(Rijal is a TRN journalist)

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