Nepal: with an ancient culture curdled into the Himalayas, Nepal has become reliant on tourism and hikers who wish to visit the world’s highest peak.
In 2008, Nepal became a republic and abolished its monarchy. It has been making strides for the past decade and was even the first Asian country to openly protect gay rights in 2015.
However, in early 2015, Nepal experienced a devastating earthquake which has left a lot of its infrastructure and heritage sites in shambles. The tragedy has highlighted not only the poverty, but the state of its people. Nepal is often referred to as one of the poorest countries in the world with about one out of every four people living below the poverty line.
The recent downturn in living conditions has left Nepal’s women in a state of inferiority worse than ever before. Nepal’s customs and cultural traditions are extremely patriarchal. Men go from son to husband to father and in each role have more power than any mother let alone unmarried woman. And thus, a woman’s rights are limited because of male authority figures set by society.
A woman born in Nepal does not become a citizen unless her male authority figure, father of husband, permit the notion. Thus without male authority, a woman is less than a citizen. Some families believe that by not bearing a son, both husband and wife will go to hell.
Also, menstral cycle and post-child birth are viewed as “impure” and during this time, a woman is not allowed to take part in any kind of community life. In other words, she is forced out of the family home for that time period.
In 2010, the Nepal government began to permit the selective abortion of baby girls. Further exhibiting the notion, that baby girls are not only less than status of baby boys, but are not any cause for celebration. In the same year, the most common cause of death among women ages fifteen to forty nine was suicide. Many of these deaths are often related to how women are forced to live with her husband for the rest of her days, never to return to her parents, even if the marriage was for purely financial reasons.
Journalist Marie Dorigny reported that about 99% of Nepalese men believe that women have to obey them and about 66% of Nepalese women claim to be victims of sexual harassment, violence (both physical and verbal), and attacks in public and private places.
Although many of Nepal’s gender gap issues are related to the inherent poverty the country has experienced, Nepal’s problems are also inherently engrained in its culture. So how can people like you and I and other governments help fix issues that are inherently apart of Nepal’s societal structure, or rather, what is going on right now to help the women of Nepal?
The Women’s Foundation Nepal has been working towards creating a safer society of Nepal’s women both victims of abuse and poverty. The foundation has been working to create shelter homes which provides education opportunities, skills training, and access to jobs, something very difficult to come by for the women of Nepal. Not to mention, the women are also given medical, psychological and legal assistance throughout their stay in the shelter home. Besides safe shelters, the organization also trains women in rural areas, usually the most impoverished, legal assistance to many women, and scholarships to poor children who are unable to access an education using their own means. In 1988, this non-governmental and non-profit organization have been working to help Nepalese women.
Another organization called Her Farm is taking a similar approach. The group has a farm in rural Nepal which facilitates a safe spot for women to begin thriving on their own outside the societal norms of their country. By having a farm, the women can learn to provide for their families and be self sufficient. The farm has provided about 300 women with healthcare, and educates about 40 women each day. Her Farm also focuses on women’s health by having a working clinic. There is also a children’s education component to the farm which provides daily english lessons and computer lessons to about a dozen children at a time. The farm in general employs about sixteen women at a time but is working to employ more women.
Although these are only two examples of organizations working to support women in Nepal, there are several other organizations, especially the UN, working to aid the women of Nepal. Because Nepal has an inherent female inferior culture and the work necessary to protect women and provide safe public places. Most of the work being generated to protect Nepalese women is occurring inside the country itself rather than outside organizations. More organizations are working to take Nepal out of poverty in the first place. But the state of women needs to be addressed sooner or later.