Education And Women In Nepal : Shree Prasad Devkota & Shiba Bagale
Education is the main factor in achieving knowledge, awareness and rational. Knowledge is a vital factor in our life. Knowledge and rationality play the important role to run our everyday life smoothly. A country cannot produce skilled and devoted human resources in absence of education. That’s why each family and society should give first priority to provide quality education to their children because without education, the society, which is prominent for human existence, remains in darkness hampering the overall development of the country. In the context of Nepal, education is the mainstream of development. We have programmes like EFA, SSRP, and MDG launched focusing on education. But still there are differences on education of male and female in several aspects.
Historically, Nepali laws have favoured men over women. This is gender discrimination. Until 1963 the Civil Code, which was the principal law regulating human behaviour and property rights, forbade women from owning property and participating in the economic and political activities, whereas men were free to participate in them. In 1963, the government abolished the discriminatory Civil Code and passed a new one, which brought about significant changes in family and property law and the legal status of women. The Code set the legal marriageable age for women at 16 years, made polygamy and child marriage illegal, established women's right to seek divorce and broadened women's capacity to control or inherit property.
More recently, the government has come to realize that women can play a more important role in making decisions regarding the family income, child education, community well-being and the development of the country as a whole. The government has taken legal steps to improve the lives of women throughout the country.
Women and children were confined to carrying the household chores from centuries but now the trend has changed. If we see the tertiary education, the ratio of women to men was 0.32 in 1990 whereas it has increased significantly to 0.71 in 2013. Similarly, the ratio of literate women aged 15-24 years to literate men of the same age group is 0.48 and 0.85 in the year 1990 and 2013 respectively. This has proved that some effective efforts were put in place for the increment of the women’s literacy but still women lag behind men in terms of education. If we see the most recent Nepal Living Standards Survey (NLSS-III 2010-2011), Nepal has an adult literacy rate of 56.6%, with a huge disparity between males and females. The male and female literacy rate in Nepal is 71.6% and 44.5% respectively with a Gender Parity Index (GPI) at 0.62; women lagging behind men by whopping 27%. Though the investment is the same for both the male and female, there still exists the difference.
There are several barriers and problems within women, society, nation’s policies and laws. The laws are not gender friendly so that women have to raise their voice again and again. If we see the share of women in wage employment in the non agricultural sector it was 18.9 in 1990 and has increased to 44.8 in 2013. This shows the positive sign towards the involvement of women in the mainstream of development but only saying this doesn’t fulfill the entire involvement of women. Women are seen within the social boundaries of a society so still there is less representation of women in the policy level.
According to the CBS 2011, the literacy rate of Nepal is 65.9%. The female literacy rate has jumped from 35 % to 57% in one decade which is seen as a significant improvement but comparing with the literacy of male i.e. 75% there is still a big gap between the two genders.
Regarding the education system of Nepal, women are still backward from different perspectives despite the introduction of several rules and regulations, plans and policies to increase the women literacy rates. In specific to political representation, Article 63 of the Interim Constitution of Nepal 2007 enshrines the principle of inclusiveness while selecting the candidates by the political parties and to ensure proportional representation of women, Dalit, oppressed tribes/indigenous tribes, backwards, Madhesi and other groups. Whatsoever, in case of women, at least one third of total representation should be obtained but the situation in real practice is otherwise. Proportion of seats held by women in the national parliament was just 3.4 in 1990 whereas it is 29.9 in the present Constituent Assembly.
Education and Empowerment
It is said that if a woman is educated and empowered, the entire family and society will be developed. So it is the most imperative need to provide women skills and knowledge to take advantage of the many opportunities available to them and help them improve their living standards. Providing women with the opportunities of education, job training and basic services to ease household responsibilities are the ways to empower women. When women become more knowledgeable and acquire skills, they can accomplish a great deal.
Women in the developing countries are often denied opportunities for education. Lack of education limits prospects, decreases family income, increases health risk, puts women at risk of trafficking and exploitation, and limits the economic advancement of entire countries. Each day we get to hear and read news about the incidences of gender based violence and discrimination against women. There are deep rooted social and cultural practices like child marriage, dowry system, gender discrimination and many more. For solving these types of problems like lack of women in decision-making bodies, lack of political power or political commitment, unequal payment, deep rooted gender discriminatory value system education should be addressed.
Creating a balanced society is possible only by giving equal status and role to all the people. For the production of qualitative and rationale human resource education is a must. So, equal participation, representation and empowerment of all the marginalized, disadvantaged groups are very essential. Moreover, women are out of the mainstream of development so their participation and gender mainstreaming along with empowerment is one of the crucial factors for the overall development. Thus, women should be provided access to or create new educational, financial, and social resources in their communities and should be supported to become entrepreneurs, which will help them improve their own lives, the lives of their families and the conditions in their communities. For parents and especially mothers these opportunities will help in creating conditions that ensure their daughters have equal access to basic education, are able to make informed decisions about their futures, and are able to protect themselves from trafficking, sexual exploitation, HIV etc. Educating women will surely help in maintaining peace and security, and narrowing the widening gap between the haves and have-nots.