Volunteer Society Nepal understands that empowering women is an important step towards empowering families and communities, so our education program works to teach languages, mathematics, and practical skills to women in Kathmandu.
Due to a lack of awareness and access to quality education in Nepal, gender discrimination is a major problem that is fueled by long-held superstitious beliefs and political leaders’ decreased political vision. The socio-economic status of women in Nepal is very poor; the women are discriminated against in every aspect of society including health, education, participation, income generation, decision making, access to policy making, and human rights.
While the general health of Nepalese people is one of the lowest in Asia, it is particularly bad for women; Nepal is one of the few countries in the world where life expectancy for women is lower than for men. One fifth of women get married in the early ages of 15-19, and as a result of youth pregnancy and premature births the rate of women dying preventable deaths is very high. All of these statistics: the high birth rates, low life expectancy, and high infant and maternal mortality rates indicate the poor health status of women.
There are very few women working in professional fields in Nepal. They may study law, but few are able to enter the profession. Women’s representation in the bureaucracy is also very low. Women serve as decision-makers in crop management, domestic expenditure (food items, clothes and other expenses), their children’s education, religious and social travel, and household maintenance but beyond this women’s decision-making roles seem to have declined in recent years.
In Nepal, violence against women is rampant. Research projects in Nepal concluded that 66 percent of women have endured verbal abuse and 33 percent emotional abuse, while 77 percent of the perpetrators were family members (UNICEF 2001).
Traditionally the status of women in Nepal was determined by the patriarchal social system and values, but now women’s rights are preserved and protected by the state and specific policies for the development of women. The government and other civil society groups are working hard to combat this issue, but there is still plenty of work to be done to effectively end violence against women.