Nepal: Indigenous women want recognition and equality

Indigenous women in Nepal have suffered a decline in welfare over recent years, according to a new report by activist and investigative journalist Dev Kumar Sunuwar. Though they once enjoyed a greater degree of freedom and a higher socio-economic status than 'high caste' Hindu women of Indo-Aryan origin, who were restricted by patriarchal control and religious orthodoxy, indigenous women are now being gradually deprived of the most basic human rights such as access to healthcare, education and employment. 

Mr. Kumar's latest report explains how the tide has suddenly turned in favour of the Indo-Aryan women thanks to their connection to the ruling elites, resulting in structural marginalisation of indigenous communities that orginate at the very top of the political ladder. As a result, indigenous women, who comprise half of Nepal's female population, have lower literacy rates than Indo-Aryan women and a lower standard of living. They are poorly represented in Nepal's Constituent Assembly, stifling their right to political participation. To make things worse, technological advancement has resulted in mass production of goods, which have gradually replaced handicrafts that have traditionally been the livelihood of indigenous women.

Today, indigenous women demand only their basic human rights: an end to gender discrimination in the Constitution, legal system, policies and programmes; proportionate representation in education and public services; protection against sex trafficking and gender-based violence; and an equal say in all state decisionmaking processes.

Photos: (top) Nepali indigenous women travel to participate in the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples 2011 (in text) Indigenous women participate in a rally organised by the National Indigenous Women's Federation (NWIF) on International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples 2011. Credit: Dev Kumar Sunuwar

Contact the author:

Dev Kumar Sunuwar


Telephone: 977-9841666831

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