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Indigenous Women’s Participation in Political Sector : An Experience of Nepal International Parliamentary Conference Parliaments, Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 31 october-3 November 2010, Tuxtla, Mexico Presented By Lucky Sherpa Member of Constituent Assembly, Nepal [email protected] Kathmandu, Nepal “Indigenous Women’s Rights are Human Rights”

Indigenous Women’s Participation in Political Sector : An Experience of

NepalInternational Parliamentary Conference Parliaments, Minorities and

Indigenous Peoples 31 october-3 November 2010, Tuxtla, Mexico

Presented By

Lucky SherpaMember of Constituent Assembly, Nepal

[email protected] Kathmandu, Nepal

“Indigenous Women’s Rights are Human Rights”

Indigenous Peoples of Nepal• According to CBS 2001, Indigenous Nationalities in Nepal

Consists 37.2 Percent of the Total Nepal Population That is 8.46 nationalities recognized by Gov’t but there are still some groups to be enlisted.

• There are 59 indigenous Nationalities and more are yet to be recognized.

• Indigenous Nationalities are found in 70 out of 75 Districts in Nepal.

• Indigenous Nationalities make up more than 50 percent in nearly all the hill districts of eastern and Central Nepal.


• Women Population- 50.4, 11377556

• Indigenous Women Population-37.5

• Ips recognized by the Gov’t -59

Source: Census 2001

• Box 1.• Indigenous Nationalities of Nepal

• MOUNTAIN• 1. Bara Gaunle 7. Lhomi (Shingsawa) 13. Thakali• 2. Bhutia 8. Lhopa 14. Thudam• 3. Byansi 9. Marphali Thakali 15. Tingaunle Thakali • 4. Chhairotan 10. Mugali 16. Topkegola • 5. Dolpo 11. Siyar 17. Sherpa • 6. Larke 12. Tangbe 18. Wallung•• HILL• 1. Bankaria 9. Hayu 17. Newar• 2. Baramo 10. Hyolmo 18. Pahari• 3. Bhujel/Gharti 11. Jirel 19. Rai• 4. Chepang 12. Kushbadia 20. Sunuwar• 5. Chhantyal 13. Kusunda 21. Surel• 6. Dura 14. Lepcha 22. Tamang• 7. Fri 15. Limbu 23. Thami• 8. Gurung 16. Magar 24. Yakkha

• INNER TARAI• 1. Bote 4. Kumal 7. Raute• 2. Danuwar 5. Majhi• 3. Darai 6. Raji

• TERAI• 1. Dhanuk 4. Jhangad 8. Satar/• (Rajbanshi) 5. Kisan Santhal• 2. Dhimal 6. Meche 9. Tajpuria• 3. Gangai 7. Rajbanshi (Koch) 10. Tharu

• Source: Nepal Rajpatra (Nepal Gazette), February 7, 2002.

Major Factors of Social Exlusion

State as 'Hindu Kingdom'State as 'Hindu Kingdom'

caste systemcaste system

Nepali as the only official languageNepali as the only official language

Inequitable political representationInequitable political representation

Restriction of freedom of association/ expressionRestriction of freedom of association/ expression

Centralised system of governanceCentralised system of governance

Unequal access in educationUnequal access in education

Denial of communal land/resource rightsDenial of communal land/resource rights

Unequal access to State resourcesUnequal access to State resources

Denial of right to self-developmentDenial of right to self-development

238 years of Discrimination

• On the Basis of Gender• Caste/Ethnicity• Religion• Language • Culture

Source : ESP based on data from Human Development Report, NESAC, 1999* estimated only

Human Development Indicators

Human Development Indicators

Nepal Dominant Group

Bahun/ Chhetri

Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous Women

Life Expectancy (Yrs

55.0 60.08 53.02 51

Adult Literacy 36.7 58.0 35.2 20

Mean Yrs Schooling

2.3 4.7 2.0 0.8

Per Capita Income

7637 9921 6607 5000

Fundamental Problems of IPs of Nepal

• Lack of participation in all areas of Governance• Weak Institutional Framework for Supporting their

development• Inadequate Government Policies to Promote their

development and poor implementation of these policies.

• Low Educational Status• Low Socioeconomic Status

Population Distribution

Source: 2001 Census, CBS, Acharya 2004

Hill J anajati23%

Tarai J anajati9%


Hill Dalits7%

Tarai Middle C as te13%

Mus lims4%

Hill B /C30%

Tarai B /C2%

Tarai Dalits5%


Participation in Governance

Women Movement and Indigenous Women of Nepal

• Women’s movement of Nepal is only centered on the gender discrimination issue of dominant groups, but has failed to encompass the issues and innermost dimensions of adivasi/ Janajati (Indigenous Nationalities women in this movement.

• Diversity of indigenous women have not been yet recognized by Women movement.

• Although Innumerable programs related to women development and Gender equality are being implemented in the country, Programs have benefited those limited castes and communities who dominate stat affairs.

Discrimination, Social Exclusion, Marginalization and Poverty

Decision Makers



Policy MakersPolicy/Plan Implementers

Constitution; Laws; Rules; Policies and Plans;

Economic, Social and Political System; Institutions

and Structures, etc.

Increased resource access

High Caste Groups

Janajati & others


HighCaste Groups


Highly Marginalized


Marginalized Tarai caste



High Caste Groups

Janajati & others


High Caste Groups

Janajati & others


Ensured socio-economic & political inclusion

Present Political Context and Ips of Nepal

• Building a New Constitution for Nepal• Out of Total CA members, 33 percent consists of

Indigenous CA Members .• New Constitution is becoming a Low priority for most of

the Political Parties• Cases of Human Right Violation, insecurity and Impunity at

Rise.• Bandhs and Strikes at rise

Status of Indigenous Women of Nepal

• Socio-Cultural Status• Indigenous women in Administration and Policy making

– Total Civil Servants - 93,716• Women Civil Servants- 8008

– Total Gazetted 9517• Women Employee 487 that is 5.12 percent

– Total Non Gazetted 84199• Women Non Gazetted 7521 that is 8.93 percent of the total

– Bahun Chhetri, Thakuri, Shah, Yadav women - 62.6 percent,– Newar women 22.0 percent, – Non-newar indigenous women 13.02 percent and – Dalit and other women comprise 2.27

• Indigenous Women in Decision Making level• Access to Education• Indigenous women and Health

July 2000

Different Forms of Violence Against Indigenous Women

• POLITICAL Violence Against Indigenous Women• In-equal\equitable representation in all the political

mechanisms at all level. – Organizational Structure of Political Parties

Indigenous Women in Indigenous Peoples Organization

• Underrepresented in Decision Making posts and processes

• Indigenous men guided by Hindu Patriarchal norms and values and high level of inferiority complex.

• Underrepresented in Decision Making posts and processes

• Indigenous Women’s representation in most of the Political Parties of Nepal is almost nil in decision making level but represented in the lower cadre level.


• In-equal\equitable representation in all the political mechanisms at all level. – Army Adjustment Special Committee

• no. of IP women-none

– Council of Ministers etc. • no. of IP Women


• Treated as weaker than men and discrimination on pay scale. – Wage Discrimination- Low wage for women

• Treated as incompetency to non-indigenous women and discrimination on pay scale.

• Job Politics – Exploitation - Undue influence/Advantage

Violence in Socio Cultural Sector

– Omissions of cultural Identity-– Polyandry

• In some IPs Community – Polygamy

• In some of the IPs community – Marriage at Child/Pregnancy Stage

• Child Marriage in Tharu community.

• Dowry System specially in Terai IP communities• Testimony from Tharu Communities

Domestic Violence

• Torture from husband by consuming Excessive of Liquor – Physical torture

• Beating, Snatching, Threatening, Starving – Mental torture

• Abusing, ignoring, insulting, harassing etc.

• Torture from other members (brothers, seniors) – Assigning excessive of work – Treating as burden and curse for family

Violence in society

• IP Women are treated as the means of entertainment – Mostly employed in Night Bar/Restaurants and

Massage Centres etc. – Mostly involved in entrepreneurs situated in High

Way and Motels – Mostly employed in Hotel and Casinos

Girls Women Trafficked by Caste/Ethnicity, 2001Caste/Ethnicity Proportion Total Proportion Percentage

1. Bahun/Chhetri





20 23.5

2. Terai Castes







8 9.4

3. Adivasi Janajati Women

















42 49.4

4. Dalit women

Source: Adapted from KC et al 2001 ( ILO IPEC Publication)

15 17.7


• UN Organizations1. Review Gender Policy under MDG inserting the

programmes deals with Indigenous Women specifically.2. Ask reports annually to the government on the

programmes conducted for IP Women3. Ensure full involvement of indigenous women in

negotiation of peace dialogue and agreements at national and international levels, including through provision of training for indigenous women and their organisations on formal peace processes,

Nepal Government• The state should recognize identity of indigenous women and specify

indigenous women in all plan, policy, strategy, operational strategy, program, budget, monitoring and evaluation and make necessary arrangement for proportional distribution of budget, resource and means

• Insert Indigenous Women’s Development Policy in National Development Plan

• Recognize the diversity of Indigenous women in national women commission

• Formulate the Reservation Act Immediately for ensuring participation and representation of indigenous women in all mechanisms of the government.

• Ensure proportional representation and special rights of indigenous peoples-women and men, at all levels of the tree organs of the state - executive, legislative and judiciary

To Indigenous Peoples

• Respect the spirit and aspiration of indigenous Peoples movement

• Respect the international practices of characteristics of indigenous peoples

• Respect the federal, inclusive democracy and diversity

• Get united and make space for all Nepalese Peoples

Continue Nepal Govt.

• Ensure the participation of indigenous women in the formulation of policy, plans and programmes by government.

• Free Prior and Informed Consent and effective participation of indigenous women should be respected.

• Implementation the ILO Convention 169 effectively in consultation with IP Women.

To Civil Society and International Organizations

• Consider a National Concern to the problems and issues of Indigenous women and peoples.

• Encourage Indigenous women and men to come forward in strengthening federalism and democratic republic in a meaningful way.

• The state, women’s movement, and international aid agencies should recognize diversity of women or gender in terms of caste, ethnicity, language, culture and region to ensure proportional participation and representation in all sector.