Women in Nepal

Women constitute half of Nepal’s total population of 10.7 million but are backwards in comparison to men in every way. In education, women are only 12% of the 33% of people who can read in Nepal. Various data show that in agricultural and household works, it is women that occupy 60 to 80% share, but they do not have any hold in the property. The legal right on the ancestral property has not yet been secured. Similarly, women lag behind compared to men in employment opportunities.

The women who hold up half of the sky above men are deprived of their genuine aspirations. But this is not the end of their exploitation, as day in and day out they are made the victims of rape and adultery. Every year thousands of Nepali daughters get sold to brothels in different parts of India. In this way women, instead of being treated as equals with their male counterparts, are treated as animals or commodities that can be sold and purchased in the market. The tradition of Vadi* and Deuki* clearly exhibit the status of women in society.

The solution of all these problems is not possible only with the governmental efforts. With the aim of studying, researching and enhancing the status of women, the Women Development Society (WODES), a nonpartisan and independent organization has been formed.

Our objectives are: to study and document the position and problems of women in Nepal; to promote consciousness of Nepalese women and to raise voices against the violation of human rights of women in accordance with the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights; to provide literacy to women, impart skill oriented tra ning and to give other useful advice.

We also run classes to impart legal knowledge to women and to organize different types of symposiums and seminars; to work in coordination with the concerned institutions to provide legal remedy to women who are victims of injustice; to try to make an arrangement to provide education and treatment of women in areas of malnutrition, inadequate food, anaemia, pregnancy, childbirth and family planning; to train women on the immunisation of children, sanitation and care of children; to investigate cases of trafficking in women, to try to bring these women back int., the country, give them respectable status and to engage tnem in income generating projects; to study the superstitious practices of Jhuma, Deuki, Padi and Jari and to initiate appropriate actions against them; to try to free women from the superstition of Dhami, Jhakri and other social practices; to make women conscious and aware about the destruction of the forest, environmental balance; to hold various meetings, symposiums and seminars and to publish posters, brochures, etc. for the solution of these problems.

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

WODES is an organization which can thrive only with the help of its friends and well wishers. You can help WODES by providing relevant information on women’s rights; sharing experiences gained in the field of women’s rights; exchanging publications and other relevant materials; participating in WODES programs; and by providing financial and material assistance.

WODES, P.O. Box 5840, Kalimati, Kathmandu, Nepal. Tel. 270-047.

* These are all traditional customs—supported by religious belief—that hamper the emancipation of Nepali women: Deuki involves offering young girls to goddesses and forces them into being temple servants for their whole lives; Vadi involves the exploitation of women dancers by their male partners; Jari involves the compensation (with large sums of money) of the first husband by the new husband; Jhuma is a custom in some Mustang families whereby the second daughter is not allowed to marry.