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Gender based stratification in Nepali society The word gender is being used sociologically and has been one

of the major agendas of discourse, including the socio-political, intellectual and disciplinary discussion and debates. In Nepal, it has been the hot issue before and after the 2nd Jana Andolan.Gender issues like womans violence, the concern of property right, the question of proportionate representative in NGOs and GOs, attitudes and belief system towards woman, religious and cultural based discrimination, etc. are making the hot debate among the various group of people, including political parties, feminists, social worker, etc. According to Kamala Bhasin, an Indian scholar and feminist, defined gender as- in its new incarnation gender refers to the socio-cultural definition of man and woman, the way societies distinguish man and woman and assign them social roles. Whereas sex is the biological predisposition of man and woman, gender is the sociocultural and political manifestation of man and woman. As elsewhere, gender is the key locus of the cultural structure in Nepal. The construction of gender and gender relations may very from society to society in terms of age, life related positions within family, caste, ethnicity, class, region, etc. Gender based discrimination is highly experienced with the patrilineality and patrilocality which contribute to an extremely unequal level of life opportunities between man and woman. How the gender based discrimination is expressed 1. The high rituals and other values (especially, Hindu based rituals in Nepal) attached to son as against daughters make emphasis on gender specific socialization. 2. Highly gender based access to household productive resources, income and household decision making and schooling are the issues greatly discussed and these are the specific concern of gender based discrimination in Nepal. Unpaid economic participation, unequal access to public decision making structures and low public facilities, a Barriers and mal practices to gender equity and gender based Relation in Nepal Patriarchal society- That means the authority of family and society lie on male head of the family. Patrilineal Society- That means descent and property transforms from male head of family to offspring Belief, Values and norms are as against to womans welfare and justiceChaupadi and Dewaki in far western region of Nepal, for instance, provide

evidence of how womans dignity , justice and their basic right are threatened and violated Non sense practices prevailing in society- The popular non-sense practices like witchcrafts and dowry system in many parts of Nepal, especially in the middle Terai, are as against the practices of womans justice and welfare. Category of work and burden- Women in developing countries like ours have to shoulder 3 burdens at a time- reproduction, house hold chores and outside work (in underdeveloped societies reproduction is taken as burden, since many of the women can not get proper care and health facilities during the gestation period and in the post delivery period). Lack of implementation of woman related law- Due to the deeply rooted social values, womans law like property right bill and abortion bill are not being effectively implemented. Domestic violence and sexual abuses- Domestic violence is on increasing and sexual abuses are rampant. But the law related to these problems are either not effective or are ambiguous in meaning and interpretation, giving the defendant or culprit more chances to get free. Religion and social beliefs- Some religions like Hindu and Islam, in its extreme form, are barriers for the uplift and equity of women (many aspects mentioned in their religious books are against the welfare of woman) Maternal mortality rate- As compared to other SAARC countries and developed countries, the maternal and neo-natal mortality rate in Nepal is high. It is due to the lack of proper health care and health facilities provided to the many of rural women in Nepal.

Gender Equality in Nepal


Social Institutions The Nepalese constitution of 1990 guarantees all citizens basic human rights and fundamental freedom, but statutory laws that still discriminate against women can be found in the area of property rights and family law. The social status of women and their relative equality with men varies between different ethnic groups. Yet, in most communities, womens position is governed by patriarchal traditions and conventional assumptions of womens role in society are slow to change. A womans place is generally in the home where her main duties include childrearing and household related chores. Womens access to education is limited and they have very few opportunities to engage in activities that would provide them with a

greater degree of economic freedom. Their employment outside of the home is often tied to the agricultural sector or the textile and weaving industries. Over 80 percent of the population is Hindu and close to 11 percent is Buddhist. Family Code Legally, women and men have the right to freely choose a spouse and to enter into marriage only with their free and full consent. Following Hindu traditions, however, marriages are often considered social contracts between families, rather than between the bride and groom themselves. With parental consent, the legal age of marriage is 16 years for women and 18 years for men. Without consent women need to be 18 and men 21. Nevertheless, early marriages are common practice and girls are encouraged by their parents to marry in their early teens or even earlier. An estimated 40 percent of girls between 15 and 19 years of age is or have been married, divorced or widowed (UN, 2004) and in 2001, approximately 7 percent of girls under the age of 10 years were married (UNICEF, 2001). Polygamy is illegal in Nepal, but the law does not invalidate the second marriage itself. Polygamists are subject to two months imprisonment and a fine but, after that time, they may keep the second marriage as a recognized one. According to a DHS survey undertaken in 2001, an estimated 4.4 percent of women were living in polygnous marriages. A womans right to inheritance depends to a large extent on her marital status. Recent legal amendments have improved womens inheritance rights and daughters, widows and divorced women are now to be accepted as rightful inheritors. Still, many discriminatory provisions remain. For example, daughters can only inherit tenancy rights of their father or mother once they have reached the age of 35, and then only if they are unmarried. Legally, parental authority rests with both parents and they are considered equally responsible in bringing up the child and in providing education and health care. Physical Integrity Female genital mutilation is not a general practice in Nepal. Violence against women is a serious problem and womens rights are poorly enforced. Domestic violence is common and the custom of dowry is the cause of many incidents. Recently, free legal aid following domestic violence has been made available. The occurrence of missing women (including female infants and children) is widespread in most South Asian countries. Reasons for this include son preference and sex-selective abortions, relative neglect of girls compared to boys in early childhood and high maternal mortality ratios. While Nepal may have less of a problem than neighbouring counties, such as India and Bangladesh, its population

sex ratio remains high at 1.06. Further, Nepal is one of the few countries in the world where womens life expectancy at birth is lower than that of men. Civil Liberties Womens right to move freely varies between different groups and communities. Women belonging to the Indo-Aryan group often face restrictions on their movements outside of the household, while women belonging to the Tibeto-Burman group enjoy a relative high degree of freedom. The freedom of religion is guaranteed by the constitution and there are no legal restrictions on womens freedom of dress. Muslims make up 4 percent of Nepals population and traditions of purdah are observed in some conservative Indo-Aryan communities, requiring women to cover their at least their hair. Ownership Rights Women make up more than 65 percent of the labour force employed in agriculture, but the majority of them are unpaid family workers. As such, their access to land is limited and they account for only 6 percent of total landowners with a combined share of 4 percent of arable land (CEDAW, 2003). Women have the legal capacity to take bank loans and other forms of financial credit. The Ministry of Local Development and the Ministry of Agriculture conduct loan programs targeted at women. The Contract Act of 2000 also allows women to enter into financial contracts of any form and to establish private firms or companies. Recent amendments to the Country Code have improved womens access to property. An unmarried daughter now has the right to ancestral property irrespective of age, while previous conditions required her to be above the age of 35. Womens independent use of their property is still restricted, however, and they are often required to receive permission from a male relative before disposing of any immovable property (CEDAW, 1998).

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