Women’s Empowerment at the Frontline of Adaptation

Box 3: Initiatives for gender equality in Nepal

The positive effects of recent gender empowerment measures will take time to materialize and current key social indicators suggest that a significant gender gap still remains. Patriarchal norms and values are debilitating factors that underscore social as well as intra-household relations. In recent decades, Nepal has adopted several important measures to promote gender equality. This trend gained momentum as the country emerged from civil conflict in 2006. The Interim Constitution of 2007 reaffirmed zero tolerance for discrimination against women and women’s equal right to inherited property. Women’s representation in the Constituent Assembly elected to write Nepal’s new constitution in 2008 was an unprecedented 33%. Land ownership: Women’s land ownership is accelerating with the introduction of an incentive in the form of a tax reduction for land registered in the name of a woman. While the share of women-owned land in recent land transactions has increased significantly thanks to this tax incentive (Dhital 2010), 93% of women aged 15–49 years do not own a house and 90% do not own any land. Reproductive health and education: Measures have been put in place to promote women’s reproductive health and girls’ education and Nepal made some impressive progress in these areas, as shown by Millennium Development Goal indicators. While child malnutrition remains a serious problem, there is little gender difference in the prevalence of stunting, underweight, and wasting, according to the Nepal Living Standards Survey data (Central Bureau of Statistics 2011). Agricultural development: To promote the meaningful participation of women in agricultural development programmes, the Women Farmer Development Division (WFDD) was established in 1992 as an apex body to look after policy matters concerning women farmers in the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. Keeping in mind the emerging health and food issues, the feminization of agriculture, climate change, and greenhouse effects, the WFDD was renamed the Gender Equity and Environment Division (GEED) in May 2004. It was given the mandate of gender mainstreaming in the ongoing agriculture development programmes and projects and of preserving the agriculture environment and biodiversity. The main objective of the Gender Equity and Environment Division is to ensure women farmers’ participation in agricultural development programmes and to minimize the negative impacts of environment degradation in agricultural production and productivity for sustainable agricultural development. Besides formulating gender and agricultural environment-related policies and strategies, it also initiates entrepreneurship development programmes for women farmers’ groups, supports the establishment of a gender database in the agriculture sector, and monitors and supervises programmes and projects implemented to address gender and environmental issues. Source: Nepal Demographic Health Survey 2011 (Ministry of Health and Population 2012); Nepal Living Standards Survey III (Government of Nepal 2011a); and the Agriculture Information and Communication Centre website http://www.aicc.gov.np/ organization/division_center/gender_equity_environment_division.php


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