Women's & Children's Rights

Women and children's rights

Trafficking is not the only evil perpetrated in Nepal. Women are beaten or raped, children are abused or abandoned. There is no welfare system to help them. They end up on the streets, in institutions, or in forced labour, denied their human and childhood rights.

Gender and caste discrimination are rife in Nepal and though Nepal is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), successive governments have done little to act on human rights issues, and virtually nothing on women’s rights. Although Nepal is officially a caste-free society the reality is very different.

A woman’s place in life, her ability to obtain gainful employment and self-sufficiency is based on both caste and the men who dominate her – first her father, then her husband, and finally her son. A woman is considered an adjunct to and the property of the male head of the house.

A woman or girl child abandoned or thrown out of her family loses her status in society, and is usually deemed casteless or unclean. Her chance of obtaining self-sufficiency through employment without family/caste introductions is very difficult without outside help and support.

Rights of the Child

Although Nepal is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, it allows its tenets to be regularly flouted.

Though primary schooling is obligatory in Nepal, the reality is quite different. Due to poverty and the mindset that educating a girl is fruitless since she will ultimately become the property of her husband’s family, many families keep daughters at home to help with domestic chores and work in the fields, or put their children into employment. The literacy rate for girls is around 35% compared with male literacy of just over 60%. 

Tens of thousands of children are put to work in domestic and other labour, often far away from their families. Living in often cramped and dirty conditions, they face physical, sexual and mental abuse from their employers and the employers’ family. It is rare for them to be given educational support, leaving them to face a life of menial labour. Children in such work, apart from suffering as mentioned above, face the risk of being trafficked or other forms of abusive labour.

Asha Nepal is committed to fighting against trafficking and other forms of exploitation and oppression of women and children in Nepal. We wish to see female status in society raised, through education and training, to give them more independence and a voice.

"Girls in Nepal suffer from gender discrimination from birth onwards. Fewer girls than boys survive to reach adulthood. Fewer girls are in full-time education, and literacy rates for women are significantly lower than for men. Employment opportunities for girls are significantly worse than for boys. Women are hugely under-represented in all spheres of public life, including politics. Poverty, social exclusion and poor governance all impact on females to a greater extent than on males"
Dr Andrew Hall, former British Ambassador to Nepal
"Gender equality is not only morally right, it is pivotal to human progress and sustainable development. Gender equality will not only empower women to overcome poverty, but also their children, families, communities and countries. Healthy, educated and empowered women have healthy, educated and confident daughters and sons. The amount of influence that women have over decisions in the household has been shown to positively impact the nutrition, health care and education of their children. By upholding women's rights, societies also protect girl children and female adolescents. Without gender equality, it will be impossible to create a world of equality, tolerance and shared responsibility - a world that is fit for children."
UNICEF - The State of the World's Children, 2007