Anjam Singh, a research consultant for the Institute of Social Studies Trust, Delhi, reflects on the role of unpaid care work in women’s economic empowerment within Nepal and its importance in the wider development discourse following its inclusion in the Sustainable Development Goals.
Unpaid care work in Nepal
Nepal is one of four focus countries in ActionAid’s programme on women’s unpaid care work. ActionAid created a participatory time use tool that participants in each country could use to measure the time and energy they spend on unpaid care work. In Nepal women participants reported that they spent less time sleeping than men and that for every hour spent by men on on unpaid care, they spent 1.4 hours. They expressed their desire for paid work, in order to earn an independent income and to gain recognition and social status that comes with it.
Gender balance of housework, Nepal. Taken from ActionAid Making Care Visible programme
Nepal programme report
Unpaid Care Work Programme: Nepal Progress Report (2012–13) Nesbitt-Ahmed, Zahrah; Chopra, Deepta.
This report covers the progress of work in Nepal over the first year and a half of the programme. It considers the political economy context of Nepal, and outlines research findings so far.
Gender equality in Nepal
Nepal experienced civil war for ten years from 1996. The political context remains unstable, despite elections in 2008. In Nepal women have limited access to education and few opportunities for economic empowerment. There is a strong literacy gap between women and men, as well as a rigid division of labour. Violence against women and early marriage persist, with domestic violence constituting 80 per cent of total violence in the country. Poor, Dalit, indigenous and rural women are especially vulnerable to violence and poverty. Women are underrepresented in politics and other leadership positions. Stereotypical attitudes and norms around gender roles impact significantly on Nepal’s social, cultural, religious, economic and political institutions.
Nepal ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1991, and the Optional Protocol in 2007.
The country was ranked 36th out of 86 in the 2012 Social Institutions and Gender Index. It was ranked 128 out of 155 in the 2012 Social Watch Gender Equity Index.
- Rupantaran (2012) ‘Promoting Peace in Nepal’: http://www.eldis.org/vfile/upload/1/document/1210/eldis.upload.pdf
- OECD Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) 2012: http://genderindex.org/country/nepal
- Social Watch Gender Equity Index: http://www.socialwatch.org/taxonomy/term/527
- SDC country factsheet on Nepal: http://www.sdc-gender-development.net/en/Home/Regions