Women in Nepal

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Women in Nepal
Woman in Nepal, 2007
Gender Inequality Index
Value 0.485 (2012)
Rank 102nd
Maternal mortality (per 100,000) 170 (2010)
Women in parliament 33.2% (2012)
Females over 25 with secondary education 17.9% (2010)
Women in labour force 80.4% (2011)
Global Gender Gap Index[1]
Value 0.6053 (2013)
Rank 121st out of 136

In the early 1990s, like in any other Asian country, women in Nepal were generally subordinate to men in virtually every aspect of life. Nepal, like the most societies in the present world was a rigidly patriarchal society.

Women's relative status, however, varied from one community to another.

Nepal being a predominantly agricultural society, the senior female member played a commanding role within the family by controlling resources, making crucial planting and harvesting decisions, and determining the expenses and budget allocations. Yet women's lives remained centered on their traditional roles —taking care of most household chores, fetching water and animal fodder, and doing farm work. Their standing in society was mostly contingent on their husbands' and parents' social and economic positions. They had limited access to markets, productive services, education, health care, and local government. Malnutrition and poverty hit women hardest. Women usually worked harder and longer than men. By contrast, women from high-class families had maids to take care of most household chores and other menial work and thus worked far less than men or women in lower socioeconomic groups.But economic prosperity alone, decision making was left to men in the family.

The economic contribution of women was substantial, but largely unnoticed because their traditional role was taken for granted. When employed, their wages normally were 25 percent less than those paid to men. In most rural areas, their employment outside the household generally was limited to planting, weeding, and harvesting. In urban areas, those migrating from rural areas or with a lower economic status were employed in domestic and traditional jobs, as well as in the government sector, mostly in low-level positions.

One tangible measure of women's status was their educational attainment. Although the constitution offers women equal educational opportunities, many social, economic, and cultural factors contributed to lower enrollment and higher dropout rates for girls. Illiteracy imposed the greatest hindrance to enhancing equal opportunity and status for women. They were caught in a vicious circle imposed by the patriarchical society. Their lower status hindered their education, and the lack of education, in turn, constricted their status and position. Although the female literacy rate has improved noticeably over the years, the level in the early 1990s fell far short of the male level.

The level of educational attainment among female children of wealthy and educated families was much higher than that among female children of poor families. This class disparity in educational attainment was also true for boys. In Nepal, as in many societies, education was heavily class-biased.

In the early 1990s, a direct correlation existed between the level of education and status. Educated women had access to relatively high-status positions in the government and private service sectors, and they had a much higher status than uneducated women. This general rule was more applicable at the societal level than at the household level. Within the family, an educated woman did not necessarily hold a higher status than her uneducated counterpart. Also within the family, a woman's status, especially a daughter-in-law's status, was more closely tied to her husband's authority and to her parental family's wealth and status than anything else.


The Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal of 1990 contained a guarantee that no person should be discriminated against on the basis of sex, and in 1991 the government ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

An amendment of 1975 to the civil code introduced the first clear provision on property rights for women. It ruled that a woman who remained unmarried up to 35 years of age had a right to inherit property. In 2002, a bill was passed in 2002 that granted women the right to inherit property from birth, specifying however that at the time of marriage any property must be returned to the parent's family, with the wife obtaining equal right to her husband's property instead. The 2002 bill included also other provisions on women's rights, in particular granting a woman the right to divorce under certain conditions, a legalization of abortion, and increased punishments for rapists.[2] The Interim Constitution 2063 of Nepal has some provisions to uplift status of women, the constitution says that a daughter can get equal parental property as son if she asks, even a women can divorce with husband and get 50% of property of husband after divorce, a child can acquire citizenship in the name of his/her mother too, in every governmental office 20% quota for female must be preserved and 33% of seats are preserved in parliament for women. These all efforts are done so that women can be in mainstream politics of country and else be socially and economically strong.

The efforts made in the past few years by the government and women have given women a stronger approach to many aspects. now women are engaged in politics, business and in other fields . recent surveys done by Nepal government has revealead a steady and large improvement in the field of women rights in Nepal.



  1. ^ "The Global Gender Gap Report 2013" (PDF). World Economic Forum. pp. 12–13. 
  2. ^ Women's Property Right Movement and Achievement of the 11th Amendment of Civil Code, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Nepal Office

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies. (Data from 1991.)

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