The Nepali Women’s Narrative on Peace, Security, Safety and Equal Treatment: The Voice of Many
22 Pages Posted: 7 May 2020
Date Written: January 10, 2020
Nepal has been characterized as a country that has grappled over the years in attempting “to manage its diverse population, its powerful neighbors and its topographical extremes.” This context informed, pushed and pulled the space within which Nepali women have attempted to secure complete and total equity and empowerment. Scholars examining gender-based discrimination have all articulated a salient and seminal point on the violence against women – “as one of the most pervasive forms of human rights violations across the world.” With Nepal becoming a signatory to, and ratifying the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, as well as developed a National Action Plan in response to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, it is warranted to examine how these international instruments have influenced and effectuated meaningful change.
The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the landscape of the Nepali women’s experiences and realize an articulate and nuanced picture of where positive changes have been made and where progress remains. In order to achieve this detailed portrait reflective of the true realities that contextualize Nepali women’s experiences, this paper analyzes three important dimensions of the narrative: (1) the collective action, mobilization and contributions of Nepali women in the People’s War as combatants, in the peace process, and Interim Constitution Drafting; (2) the judicial setting and how international instruments have been leveraged; and (3) examining how Nepal’s diverse population and the varied intersectionalities juxtaposed against the work of NGOs led by elite Nepali women limit the achievement of total equity and empowerment for all women.
Through this analysis and discussion, this paper will demonstrate that the voice of Nepali women is not a single voice. Instead, the voice of many women, affected by distinct and diverse intersectionalities, weave the Nepali Women’s Narrative. Hence, in order to appreciate the progress achieved and fundamentally understand the most effective way to improve and further secure equity and empowerment of women at all levels – cultural, social, economic and legal – we must apply a nuanced and discrete approach. While the marked improvements discussed in sections I and II seem monumental, an analysis that digs deep and goes below the surface uncovers findings that belies initial thoughts. Similarly, while small, slow, negotiated processes in smaller communities might not, on the surface, seem significant, scholars explain that such efforts are monumental in the objective of achieving complete and total peace, security and safety for all Nepali women. As the different spaces women occupy as delineated by their religion, economic status, and caste, among others, specifically inform their rights and restrictions to equal treatment, community-oriented and daily negotiations with men in day-to-day activities are a pivotal counterpart to state-level and NGO policies and programs. Only through this renewed perspective, and understanding how judicial progresses, state-level policies and programs can only go so far without the local processes that address and redress factors that distinctively inform one woman’s experiences of discrimination and from another.
Keywords: women's rights, international women's rights, humanitarian, law, policy, Nepal, Nepal gender rights
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