According to Ms. Sapana Pradhan-Malla, a practicing Lawyer of the Supreme Court of Nepal and president of the Forum for Women, Law and Development, Nepal has the highest maternal death rate in the world among densely populated countries. Moreover, she states that it’s “a country where various forms of violence against women are taking place.”
The continuous cycle reinforces the current status of Nepalese Women.
The Social System of Nepal is a main barrier to bring equality. In another word, Nepal has been a patriarchal country from centuries. Especially, in rural Nepal, women are bounded in the house. Parents think that sending their daughters to school is worthless because whenever daughters are ready to earn, they got married and support their in-laws family. So, although parents have money they hesitate to send their daughter for higher studies. As a result, many talented young ladies drop out after their secondary level education. FAO reported that “The literacy rate among females aged 10-14 years (49.3%) is nearly 14 times higher than that among women aged 55 years and over (3.6%).” Finally, Girls have a social role to live out as mothers to their own children and as daughters to their husband’s families. It encourages women to marry at a young age because their families do not invest in their education, a lack of education leads them to be less employable and therefore economically dependent on their husbands / families.
Contrasting, parents’ think that sending their sons for higher education is worthy because when they become old their sons cares after them. They even think that sons will light the pyre after their death although there is no written law that only sons have to light the pyre. There is an impact of immature mothers raising children. The women are unaware of how best to care for their children and family due to lack of education. It brings negative consequences which often result in death to mothers and children. UNICEF (2007) reported that in Nepal over 50,000 children are suffering from malnutrition and more than 60% of these result in death. Who will give work to unqualified women? They aren’t educated. How will they support their family?
Similarly, the parents’ property belongs to the sons inherently, and daughters are ignored. As wives, rural Nepalese women are ignored in economical power. WelNepal, a local organization that works to promote women’s rights in property, reported that 90% of Nepalese live in rural areas for agricultural purposes. Where 90% are women who depend on agriculture as a living, sadly, only 10% of the total Nepalese women have their own land. There are laws that allow equal access to the property for both men and women but implementation of these laws is almost nonexistent. Who will help the women to empower?
Furthermore, some dominate Nepalese might take the advantage of these ignored/voiceless women by forming various political parties in the name of “women’s empowerment.” They might use the women against the government to accomplish their goal but ignore them when they are in the power. Unfortunately, Nepalese women lack economical power and follow other dominated political parties. Without economic independence, they are trapped in the overall system. Unless women are economically powerful, gender equality is impossible not only in Nepal but also in every corner of the world. Everyone has to work on it, because, it will decrease the poverty. This social structure isn’t going to change in a year because it has been loved and cared from centuries.
Equality is possible but how? It is said that especially in Nepal, men are powerful and they can shape the world as they wish. Although, it has been said, but do they really want to? What will happen if all the men stand in the shoes of women? What will happen if men are bound inside house and the controlling power over men is in the hand of women? Imagine men cooking food, washing clothes and carrying their children bag and sending them to school whereas women working outside of house and keeping records of their husbands. Then men will realize the situation in a week. Moreover, we need awareness campaign. I feel this will make a drastic change.
This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future, which is providing rigorous web 2.0 and new media training for 31 emerging women leaders. We are speaking out for social change from some of the most forgotten corners of the world. Meet Us.