This article is based on Lily Thapa’s remarks in a program at Martin Chautari Kathmandu on 3rd March. She is the founder of Women for Human Rights Nepal.
“We are working for Gender-Friendly Constitution”
The feminist movement has not been gaining momentum as per our expectation even though there were some serious efforts made in the past, time and again. There are several reasons behind this including the patriarchal system in our society. Women movement in Nepal is politically fragmented. Women working for various parties are divided on fundamental issues of women. They should come together for common issues of women. We have not yet been able to uplift the status of women at the grassroots. Capacity building of women from remote areas of Nepal is a must. Basically after 2006, things have changed. I believe that for the success of women’s movement or feminist movement, young generation especially the men’s active participation is vital. Over the past few years we are working for gender-friendly constitution in which we had held rounds to discussions and interactions with the lawmakers.
Most of the women living in Madhesh region are still illiterate and forced to be confined in their home. We can find a bleak picture of women in Madhesh. A tradition of childhood marriage is still prevailing. Hundreds of such young girls in Madhesh are abandoned by their husbands who are called ‘Baikalya’. It is said that over 1,500 women are ‘Baikalya’ in Terai even now.
However, after 2006, women participation has been ensured and marginalized women are categorized in different kinds such as—single Dalit women, single-indigenous women, single-marginalized women etc. Women have now 33 percent participation in the Constituent Assembly and we are hopeful that the number of lawmakers will be increased in future.
After our pressure and lobby the issue of marginalized women is going to be incorporated as the fundamental right. It is said that there are over 40,000 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) working in Nepal. But only few of them are working effectively for women and grassroots people. The donor agencies are also helping for building capacity of women but I think there are many things to do.
The main reason behind backwardness of women is the perception and tendency of their own family and society. Not only the women in rural areas of Nepal, but women in Kathmandu are equally out of the mainstream in terms of getting opportunities.
The women in urban area are also dominated by patriarchy. Due to their high-class family status, they can’t speak, and stay confined in their home. Unfortunately, educated women in urban are also not getting opportunity due to their several family reasons—they are also considered as homemaker or machine to produce children.
Women should be treated in a different way. Only a few women in urban area have got opportunity to join government service or the mainstream. So, the perception towards women needs to be changed and men should be ready to accept women’s role in the development of the society.