Nepal’s constitution mandates that women hold at least 33% of seats in the national parliament and provincial assemblies, and at least 40% in local governments. These provisions, enshrined in 2015, have given a record number of women a place at the table in Nepal’s political sphere. In spite of this, meaningful, widespread participation in major decision-making by women in Nepal remains elusive.
The Asia Foundation’s recently released A Survey of the Nepali People in 2018 gathered the views, aspirations, and priorities of 7,056 Nepalis on the overall direction of the country, the economy, the state of governance, and personal safety, as well as gender relations and the position of women in society. The Survey reveals that Nepalis are cautiously optimistic about how things are unfolding in the country, suggesting that Nepal may finally be on a path to stability after two decades of political upheaval and conflict. Just over half of respondents (51.5%) say, as they did in the previous Survey, in 2017, that the country is headed in the right direction. Most say they trust local government more than provincial or federal government. Opinions on service delivery, security, access to justice, and the economic outlook remain positive.
The picture looks different, however, when viewed through a gendered lens, with pronounced variations by province, class, caste, ethnicity, and gender on issues related to identity, inclusion, and gender roles and preferences.
Although a large proportion of Nepalis believe in greater equality for men and women, the Survey suggests that gender stereotypes still have deep roots in Nepali society. A majority of Nepalis agree that both sons and daughters are important (87.5%), that higher education is important regardless of gender (91.9%), and that women should be encouraged to work outside the home (89.4%) and to have a political career (79.1%). Yet, around half of respondents (49.6%) say that women should not control their own income, movements, or decisions. Some 39.5% say that a woman has no right to decide how many children she will bear; 28.3% say that a man has the right to punish his wife if she disobeys him; 77.7% agree that “to be a man, you have to be tough”; and 53.1% say that it is primarily a man’s responsibility to meet his family’s financial needs.
Click here to read the full article published by Asia Foundation on 8 May 2019.