Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) is a development discourse of the recent decade in Nepal. The Government of Nepal has been mainstreaming GESI in its development processes. The Constitution of Nepal 2072, Article 84 Clause 8 provisioned that at least one-third of the total elected members from each political party must be women in the Federal Parliament. The Article 86 Clause 2, Sub-clause (a) further reinforces that among the 56 elected members in the National Assembly, at least one women, one Dalit and one from person with disability or minority should be elected from each State. Again, at least one women should be nominated by the President under the Sub-clause (b) of Clause 2. It clearly demonstrates that the Constitution of Nepal has paid due emphasis to make more inclusive involvement from each aspect of society by the special provisions.
Legal rights to parental property (particularly fixed asset like land) only rested with the male offspring. But a recent amendment in Land Act provisioned equal right to the daughter-in-law and unmarried daughter above 35 years of age. Furthermore, Nepal Citizen Act 2063 has also opened up the avenue to acquire citizenship from the matrimonial relationship.
Nepalese farming system is the integration of agriculture, livestock and forestry, and the majority of farming households adopt the subsistence nature of farming. As per the current statistic of Ministry of Agricultural Development, 66 percent of the population is engaged in agriculture. According to the Census Survey (2011), 51.5 percent of the total population were women, 19.7 percent women had the ownership of land or house or both, and 25 percent were the women-headed households. It is a common phenomenon that women are more involved in farming activities and household chores whereas men are more involved in outside affairs. As per the UN report, 45 percent women are involved in agriculture globally. Nepal is also following the international trend with women labour force in agriculture increasing from 36 to 45 percent during the period of 1991 to 2016 (ibid). It clearly shows that female engagement is gradually increasing in agriculture and their decision making in agriculture is also believed to be increased because of male migration. National Living Standard Survey report shows that the main crops like paddy in growing households have been decreased from 76.1 percent in 2003/4 to 72.3 percent in 2011 (NLS, 2011: p9) but vegetable growing households have increased from 60.8 percent in 2003/4 to 68.8 percent in 2011. The statistics indicate that crop diversity is an increasing trend which ultimately contributes to the family nutrition.
A total 35,041 representatives were elected on the local level election and 22 percent were Dalit where 18.3 percent were women. Since Home Garden Project Phase IV focused on the smallholders and disadvantaged groups, we collected information of HGP members who were involved in the local election held in 2017. The 231 Home Garden Group members took part in that local election where 86 percent were female candidates. Out of 86 percent female, 26 percent were from Janajati and 52 percent were Dalit female (Table 1). The higher candidacy by women is due to higher (75%) number of women beneficiaries. Furthermore, higher participation of the marginalized communities is evident and it is due to the quota/reservation system and capacity building of the individual working in groups.
Table 1: Inclusion of HG members in the local election
Candidacy in local election
Elected HG members in local election (in percentage)
Out of 231 HG members’ candidacy, 79 were elected in the local election, where about 82 percent were women. The majority of the women was from Dalit (50.8 percent) followed by Janajati women (33.8 percent). A higher percent of Janajati women won the election than that of candidacy, indicating the trust in their leadership capacities. Since Dalit women victory rate is more or less equal to the candidacy, it can be inferred that women from Dalit community were more empowered being in the group. The higher proportion of Dalit and Janajati women’s representations in the local government provides them the opportunity to table their agendas on the assembly and be a part of the decision making process.
Figure 1: No. of elected HG members by position and sex
The position-wise elected HG members were also analyzed. Figure 1 shows that majority of the women was elected in ward member. However, it seems that there is still lack of women’s participation in the main decision making position; female members succeeded in acquiring only two positions in Vice-Mayor and one position in Vice-Chair. This result is also supported by the result of the local election 2074 BS. Out of the total 293 Mayor position, only six were elected from the Dalits and out of 460 Chairperson position, only four positions were obtained by the Dalits.
National housing and population survey, 2011.
Constitution of Nepal, 2072.
National Living Standard Survey, 2011. Statistical Report Vol 2.
Nepal Citizenship Act, 2063.
Initiated in 2002, the Home Garden Project, with support from Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), is in its fourth phase from 2014 to 2018. The project works towards promotion of home garden approach primarily for nutritional security of smallholders and disadvantaged groups (SHDAGs).